HR Tip - Sex discrimination

25th Aug 2004

These questions are being answered by Learn HR, a market leader in the provision of HR and payroll training and nationally-recognised professional qualifications.

Q: We have just taken on four lads as engineering apprentices but have been told that we are breaking the law because we haven't employed any girls. Is this true?

A: You will be in direct breach of [***] discrimination law if you rejected a girl simply because she is a girl, or if she was at least as well qualified as one of the boys you engaged. You will be in indirect breach of the same laws if your recruitment process put girls at a disadvantage. Four males and no females suggests that you are vulnerable on the second count. Therefore make sure in future that you visit both boys and girls schools in your search for candidates and include in your advertising that applications will be welcomed from boys and girls. This will demonstrate your intentions but then you should follow up by ensuring that your selection is not [***] discriminatory by, for example, over-emphasising physical strength or asking whether oil might not spoil their fingernails.

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