Employment equality is a regular talking point at the moment, particularly with the recent discussions around the gender pay gap legislation. While everyone may be aware of employment equality in the workplace (including access to employment) and the nine protected grounds of discrimination, not everyone is aware how expensive a potential claim for discrimination at the recruitment stage can actually be.

Some might think how much, realistically, can a discrimination complaint cost an employer where the complainant hasn't even started employment. Well the answer is €13,000. Yes €13,000, and that doesn't include any associated legal costs or costs that may arise from having to deal with a potential data access request.

Employment equality is a serious matter at all stages of the employment relationship starting from the very first communication the organisation may make, either internally or externally, on potential recruitment opportunities right up to an employee's dismissal.

This case is a key example of how an employer new what they were looking for, but wasn't able to deliver their key requests in the legally correct manner.

Here are a few examples of what would not be acceptable when advertising a role pursuant to the Employment Equality Acts:

  • We are looking young professionals;
  • Only single people should apply
  • If you have a family do not apply
  • This job would only suit young men, women need not apply.
  • Please only apply if you hold an Irish passport.

Compared with:

  • This is a part time flexible role.
  • This is a fast paced demanding role, which will require the individual to be able to work some overtime hours, including the occasional weekends.
  • You may be required to provide proof of your ability to work in Ireland.

While these examples may seem obvious now, they may not always be when under pressure to get the job done and the advertisement out. So before publishing the add – think twice and if in doubt, have a colleague review the job description or employment advertisement to get their views on how they might perceive it. What might not offend you, could offend your colleague!