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The Legislative Framework underpinning recruitment and selection

When interviewing you need to ensure that the questions you pose to applicants do not come into conflict with the 2010 Equality Act. When taking part in national recruitment episodes for specialty selection, panel members will undertake appropriate training in equality and diversity that covers the relevant legal framework. In terms of interviews for non-training posts (e.g. trust grades/clinical fellows etc.), panel members should have received relevant equality and diversity training, but it can be useful to highlight some of the main features of the act so that is kept uppermost in panel members minds’ during any interview.

The Equality Act offers protection from unlawful discrimination in relation to 9 protected characteristics:

1. Age
2. Disability
3. Gender Reassignment
4. Marriage and Civil Partnership
5. Pregnancy and Maternity
6. Race
7. Religion and Belief
8. Sex
9. Sexual Orientation

Furthermore, the act distinguishes between 2 forms of discrimination:

a. Direct Discrimination which occurs when an employer treats a job applicant worse than any other applicant of one of the protected characteristics. Esmail and Everington’s study discussed above, found that applicants with Asian names were less likely to receive an interview offer compared to applicants with identical CVs, but English names, is a clear example of Direct Discrimination.

b. Indirect Discrimination which occurs when an employer does something which has a worse impact on a job applicant and on other people who share this protected characteristic, than on people who do not have that characteristic (unless they can show that this impact is objectively justified in terms of the demands of the job). For example, if the National Recruitment Office for GP recruitment arranged for the Machine Marked Tests to be taken at midday on a Friday, and observant Muslim applicants were unable to attend and not offered an alternative test time - this would be an example of indirect discrimination.

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