We have all heard a lot about discrimination in the workplace in the last decade.

However, for small businesses in particular, less may be known about what is and isn’t acceptable when it comes to the start of the hiring process.

Here are a few things you shouldn’t see within  job adverts and job descriptions themselves – as a general rule of thumb, it is unlawful for an employer to discriminate against anyone, both at work and in job adverts, based on the following things:


  • gender
  • race
  • religion or belief
  • disability
  • age
  • pregnancy and maternity
  • marriage and civil partnership
  • sexual orientation

The main ones people get wrong are below –

Racial or religious discrimination

Employers are required by law to check a candidate’s eligibility to work in the UK, however, no terminology used should state that they are looking to hire a candidate of a particular race or nationality unless, as with gender, there is a genuine occupational requirement. Religion is similarly off-limits for the majority of job advertisements.

It’s fine for a job advert to ask for someone to be a Chinese-speaking help-desk engineer, for example, if the calls they take mean they will be dealing with that language;  BUT you cannot state you are looking for Chinese help-desk person or a native speaker of Chinese.

Gender discrimination

You cannot show a preference to hire someone of a particular gender without a genuine occupational requirement (Care assistants to a particular group etc). However without one, any wording in a job advert relating to gender is discriminatory.

Age discrimination

As with gender and race, Age discrimination is a hot potato!

You cannot seek applicants who are ‘young’ or advertise a role asking for a number of years’ experience. The only way it may be relevant is if is to determine whether an applicant is over a certain age in order for them to be able to complete the role they are applying for ie; allowing someone to sell alcohol.

Disability discrimination

Any language relating to physical abilities, unless they are completely necessary for the job, should be avoided in a job advert completely! You CANNOT ask for ‘active’ or ‘athletic’ applicants (if not valid requirements for the role) or candidates holding a valid driving licence (once again, if this is not a pre-requisite).

Here  is  a GENUINE ADVERT we found today which is extremely worrying!

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