Financial & Legal News

New guidance to help avoid discrimination in job adverts

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Under the Equality Act 2010 (‘the Act’), it is unlawful for employers to place or publish a discriminatory advert for jobs and services.

The Act protects potential employees from discrimination because of sex, race, disability, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, marriage and civil partnership, religion and belief, sexual orientation and age - all of which are known as ‘protected characteristics’.

Discrimination means treating someone worse than another person because of a protected characteristic. For example, placing an advert for male applicants only, will, in most cases, be discriminatory.  A recent article in the Sunday Times highlighted some other examples of adverts that would be discrimination such as those seeking, for example:

-  a barmaid (excludes men)
-  a handyman (excludes women)
-  a paperboy (excludes girls)
-  recent graduates (excludes older people)
-  mature persons (excludes young persons)
-  workers with a permanent address (excludes asylum seekers)
-  Polish workers (excludes other nationalities)

There are some, rare scenarios in which a job will require a job applicant to have a specific protected characteristic to carry out the role. However, to be legal, this requirement, known as an occupational requirement, must be absolutely crucial to the job.

Avoiding discrimination can be a legal minefield and many employers will therefore benefit from the recent publication of guidance on advertising by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC). This new guidance is aimed at all organisations who advertise their jobs or services and includes:

  • a guidance note that explains the basic law in a clear and reader friendly way;
  • a checklist for advertisers and publishers that sets out a series of questions to ask before you publish an advert: and
  • a FAQ document which raises and answers frequently asked questions about what is lawful advertising for: jobs; goods, facilities and services; and accommodation.

It is important to remember that both publishers and advertisers are legally responsible for discriminatory adverts. Publishers are those who produce or display an advert and advertisers are those who target potential employees or customers using a form of media.


If you are concerned about whether your advert is lawful, contact Susan Mayall on 0161 684 6948 or email

Please note that the information and opinions contained in this article are not intended to be comprehensive, nor to provide legal advice. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by Pearson Solicitors and Financial Advisers Ltd or any of its members or employees. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking, or refraining from taking, any action as a result of this article.

This blog was posted some time ago and its contents may now be out of date. For the latest legal position relating to these issues, get in touch with the author - or make an enquiry now.

Written by Susan Mayall


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