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5 Steps to a Compliant Recruitment Process

  • by: Rebecca Fagan
  • On: 15, Jan 2020
5 min read

The recruitment process can be time consuming and can throw up lots of potential issues, especially regarding discrimination and data protection.

By following our simple step-by-step guide to, we’ll help you learn how to make sure that your recruitment process is compliant, right from the start.

Step 1: Understand the up-to-date legal framework and use this knowledge throughout the recruitment process

This is not restricted to the important and fundamental pre-employment issues arising from the Equality Act 2010 (see below). It also includes issues such as avoiding indirect discrimination, including the need for care when asking a candidate about their health or disability; making reasonable adjustments for disabled job applicants; appropriate questions regarding criminal records and, for UK jobs, checking the right to work in the UK. 

This also covers issues surrounding applying GDPR, with its draconian sanctions for non-compliance and the stipulation for the need of a legitimate interest to process candidate data. GDPR obligates the employer or recruiter to collect data only for “specified, explicit and legitimate purposes.” This means that data on potential candidates can only be sourced if it is job-related, and you intend to contact those candidates within 30 days.

GDPR also requires employers/recruiters to obtain consent to process data relating to disability, ethnicity, genetics and biometrics, or information gathered for a background check or EEO survey. In cases such as these, consent must be sought in a transparent and comprehensible way. You must also provide clear instructions as to how the candidate may withdraw their consent, should they wish to. Other considerations are that companies are required to be transparent when processing candidate data, including clear privacy policies, which are available to candidates, and disclosure of where the data will be stored and a statement that the data will only be used for recruitment purposes.


Additionally, as a company it is important to recognise that the responsibility for compliance and accountability rests with you; the company needs to be able to demonstrate compliance with GDPR. It is also important to keep in mind that your company is responsible who those with whom it does business; meaning that if contractors fail to comply with the law, your company is accountable as well.


Finally, a good step to ensuring that GDPR is complied with is by creating a privacy policy specific to recruiting. This means having a clear privacy policy in place explaining how the company collects, processes and protects data. This should also include instructions on how to request deletion or rectification of data by the subject.

Step 2: Check job adverts are not discriminatory

When putting together your job advertisement, the key is not to use terms that relate to what are known as “protected characteristics” in the Equality Act 2010.

It is important to ensure that you are not discriminating against anyone through the wording or the placement of your job advertisement. This is not as straightforward as it seems, for example, “French Sales Representative” could discriminate against race. “French-speaking Sales Representative” would be more appropriate. You must be able to prove you have a good reason for any job requirement.

When dealing with persons with a disability it is important to remember that this can only be asked about under a specific set of circumstances. These include, if the job requires reasonable adjustments to be carried out. You can also ask about health or disability to ascertain whether a candidate will need help to take part in a selection process or interview. Finally, in the case that ‘positive action’ is being used to actively recruit a disabled person.

Another consideration is that the candidate’s date of birth may only be requested on an application form if they must be a certain age to do the job. You can, however, ask for their date of birth on a separate form for equality monitoring. In this instance the person interviewing or selecting candidates should not see the equal opportunities form. Applicants are not obliged to tell potential employers about criminal convictions that are spent. They are also under no obligation to inform a prospective employer about a trade union membership.

You may favour a candidate who has a protected characteristic over another who does not, as previously outlined, but only in the case that the applicant is suitable for the job and you think that, within the organisation that is recruiting, people with that characteristic are underrepresented and/or they suffer from a disadvantage associated with that characteristic.

It is also important to use at least two channels to advertise the job, ideally one digital and one print. This potentially increases the pool of candidates, and importantly avoids discrimination. For example, if a job is only advertised on social media you could miss out on candidates who do not use this medium.


Step 3: Avoid discriminatory questions during the interview process

There are certain topics that employers must avoid during interview, these also relate to the “protected characteristics” in the Equality Act 2010. This means you cannot discuss anything that relates to someone’s:

- Age

- Being or becoming a transsexual person

- Being married or in a civil partnership

- Being pregnant or on maternity leave

- Disability

- Race (including colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin)

- Religion

- Sex or gender

- Sexual orientation


Step 4: Making an offer

Negotiate the terms of the contract and clearly outline the type of contract on offer e.g. permanent, freelance, part-time or fixed term, for example.

Outline plainly the process and information required to progress the application and ensure that all relevant paperwork is received including Right to Work documents, such as a valid passport or visa documents.

Outline, clearly and exactly, what the new hire will be offered, including a full outline of any benefits package, pension contribution scheme, holiday allowance and any other perks unique to the company or role.

Also, in the offer letter, as well as subsequent contract, clearly outline fundamental information such as the full details of the company policies on sickness, absence and other issues specifically relating to the role and/or company, such as flexible working or unsociable hours. These can be fully outlined in the contract of employment.


Step 5: The Onboarding process

Welcoming the new employee into the company culture. Prepare their workstation correctly to minimise health and safety risks and ensure that they are trained how to adjust their workstation to meet their specific needs. Ensure that any existing conditions or disabilities that may impact the employees ability to complete their tasks are addressed immediately, and that suitable accommodations are made for the comfort and success of the new employee.

Set clear goals and expectations and implement these with 1-2-1 sessions and a personal development plan. Outline the new employee’s responsibilities clearly.

Make sure that the new team member is aware of the office essentials such as facilities, health and safety contacts, the location of things like the first aid kit and fire extinguishers, as well as the emergency evacuation procedures.

If the role is remote then outline the structures in place to make the new hire feel part of the team with clear outlines as to how time should be spent and objectives that will be met and how the success of the employees progress within the role will be measured.


Looking for more tips? Take a look at our guide to The Top 5 Workplace Trends for 2020.

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