Legal Requirements when Recruiting

What are the main legal requirements when recruiting?


Although there are countless guides to most effective and best practice, when it comes to recruitment and selection the main legal requirements are covered by the Equality Act (2010).


The main aim of the act is to “provide a legal framework to protect the rights of individuals and advance equality of opportunity for all” (Equality and Human Rights Commission). The act makes it illegal to discriminate against an individual who falls into one (or more) ‘protected characteristics’ during any stage of the recruitment process. The nine characteristics are:


  1. Age
  2. Disability
  3. Gender reassignment
  4. Marriage and civil partnership
  5. Pregnancy and maternity
  6. Race
  7. Religion or belief
  8. Sex
  9. Sexual orientation


A case for discrimination arises should an individual receive unfavourable treatment based on any of the above. If this does occur, it is classed as direct discrimination.


Job Adverts


Must be neutral in all aspects apart from situations whereby ‘positive action’ is acceptable; this could be advertising for females to work in a domestic abuse charity. To confirm the need for neutral language, the McCoy vs McGregor case decided that age discrimination was in play by the term ‘youthful enthusiasm’ in a job advert.


Short listing


Application forms and CVs do not form part of a legal requirement when recruiting but employers must not use any information regarding the Protected Characteristics of any candidate to discount their suitability. Unconscious bias should also be accounted or wherever possible. This explains why we are seeing a move towards confidential applications and removal of university from graduate roles.




Conducting interviews is not a legal requirement but questions related to Protected Characteristics must not be asked. For example, asking anyone about their sexual orientation or family commitments does not give any insight to their ability to complete the duties of the job.

Employers must also ensure that workers have suitable documents to show their ‘Right to Work’ in the UK as set out in the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006.



Bowen Eldridge Recruitment is a Recruitment Agency that specialises in Accountancy Practice, Finance and Marketing roles.