Are your job ads breaching the Human Rights Act?

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Could you be unwittingly breaching the Human Rights Act with your recruitment campaigns?

Terms which are commonly used in job advertisements could be culpable for such breaches, including “young”, “recent graduate” and “new graduate”.

Although not all of these terms explicitly refer to young people, as statistically candidates fresh from university are likely to be aged 24 or younger.

Countless advertisements online specify that available jobs are for “recent graduates” with some even reserving their vacancies for “young” individuals.

Jackie Blue, Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner, told The New Zealand Herald that advertising for a “young” candidate could be proven as discrimination under the Human Rights Act.

“While there are some exceptions in the Human Rights Act for age discrimination in employment, such as where being of a certain age or in a particular age group is a genuine occupational qualification – for example managing licensed premises – it is good practice not to ask about a job applicant's age or to limit the age of prospective job applicants.”

Earlier this year an Auckland bar and Indian restaurant came under fire for advertising jobs for "girls only".

The Ponsonby bar Chapel Bar & Bistro had posted an online ad saying: "We need female bar & floor staff at Chapel ... drop us an email if you or a friend needs a job”.

Indian restaurant Masala in Stanmore Bay also had an advertisement in their window saying: “We are looking for part time front staff (girls only)”.

Both denied they were being discriminatory, however the Human Rights Commission told the New Zealand Herald at the time both Masala and Chapel could be in breach of the Human Rights Act.

Last year, the commission had 1488 inquiries and complaints about unlawful discrimination.
  • Robert Bennett on 5/03/2015 4:21:18 p.m.

    If HR is all about avoiding prosecution, but otherwise keeping business as usual, then shame on HR. The problem is not so much the job ad, but the bias shown by those who wrote it. In general, management select candidates who are like them. They then view everything about that person in a favourable light (the halo effect). A candidate who is different (older, etc) will have to be clearly better than the others to have any chance of selection. This sort of bias is generally unconscious, but it needs to be watched carefully and HR are the ideal people to do this. Having a broad based recruitment policy is known to increase business efficiency. HR needs to promote this sort of policy, not just clean up after mangement and hide the evidence.

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