Equality Act - impact on recruitment practices

Added On: 25th May 2010

Equality Act - impact on recruitment practices

The new Act, which comes into force in October 2010 (assuming that the new government does not change this) has two main purposes – to harmonise discrimination law, and to strengthen the law to support progress on equality.

The Act brings together and re-states all the current legislation and a number of other related provisions. It harmonises existing provisions to give a single approach where appropriate – this means that this single Act will now cover discrimination relating to age, sex, disability, marital status, race, religion or belief and sexual orientation.

One area which could impact a large number of employers is in regard to disability and recruitment. It will no longer be permissible – other than in some specific circumstances – to ask about a person’s health BEFORE an offer of employment is made. Therefore, the use of pre-employment medical questionnaires prior to making a job offer will be unlawful.

Many employers currently request the completion of medical questionnaires at an earlier stage of their recruitment process. We recommend that companies review their policies and practices now so that any necessary changes can be implemented prior to the Act coming into force in October.