Following our update on 17 June 2010 the Government have now confirmed that the original implementation date for the Equality Act will stand: “The first wave of implementation of the Equality Act will go ahead to the planned October timetable following the publication of the first commencement order in Parliament next week.”
When we spoke about the Act at our seminar in June one of the topics that led to the most questions was the ban on pre-employment health questions, which is one of the provisions due to come into force in October this year.
Do you ask candidates about their health during any part of your recruitment process? Apart from a few exceptions, the Equality Act will make this unlawful. So, what does this mean for you?
You are entitled to ask whether a potential employee is able to participate in an interview or assessment and whether you will be required to make any reasonable adjustments. For example, a disabled candidate may need special facilities.
You will be able to ask about a person’s ability to carry out the role, but only if the question relates to their ability to carry out a function that is ‘intrinsic’ to the work concerned. It is not clear when functions will be ‘intrinsic’ and we will probably need to wait for case law on this. It will probably apply only in certain limited situations. As an example, when recruiting a vet, candidates with an allergy to animals may not be able to carry out an intrinsic function of the job, and an employer would be entitled to ask about this.
As is the case now, from October you will still be able to ask questions for the purpose of monitoring equality, although it is best to do this anonymously to prevent claims for discrimination.
Do you have any questions about the new law? Do you need help changing your recruitment processes? Why not contact us to talk things through?