- Provision comes into force on 6 April 2011, which allows employers to take positive action in relation to protected or under-represented groups when recruiting and/or promoting. The aim is to promote diversity in the workplace.
- “Protected group” relates to candidates who may be seen to have a “protected characteristic” under the Equality Act 2010, such as age, race or sex.
- Employers can only take positive action in specific circumstances during the recruitment/promotion process:
o The person with protected characteristics must be an equal candidate to the person without protected characteristics;
o The employer does not have a policy of treating those with protected characteristics more favourably, in comparison to persons without; and
o The favourable treatment is a “proportionate way of minimising the disadvantage and/or encouraging participation”.
- HR professionals seem dubious on whether employers will opt to take positive action under the new provisions. Particular difficulties arise for employers in identifying candidates that are “equally qualified and suitable”. This may be problematic when considering candidates for more senior roles and where career history can be extremely varied. http://www.personneltoday.com/articles/2010/04/09/55167/equality-act-will-not-increase-positive-action-in-recruitment-say-industry-experts.html
- Other industry experts predict that candidates would want to be recruited/promoted based on merit and not because they have protected characteristics or are under-represented in the particular business, and that this would also deter employers from taking positive action. http://www.personneltoday.com/articles/2010/06/10/55899/equality-act-positive-action-and-changes-to-discrimination-law.html
- Employers are advised to implement a policy of taking positive action in respect of protected or under-represented groups. All staff would then be made aware of how recruitment/promotion is conducted and employers would be better equipped to defend discrimination claims.
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