Job Adverts

You do not have to advertise a job vacancy in a particular way or at all.

But if you don’t advertise at all or you advertise in a way that won’t reach people with a particular protected characteristic, this might in some situations lead to indirect discrimination, unless you can objectively justify your approach.

For example:

A large employer recruits workers to driving jobs through word of mouth. This results in everyone who has a driving job being a member of the same few families or a friend of these families. All the family members and their friends are white, despite the workplace being in an area of high ethnic minority population. Unless the employer can objectively justify the way drivers are recruited, this is likely to be indirect discrimination because of race.
If you do advertise, whether that’s on a notice board, in a shop window, in a newspaper or on a website, or by using a recruitment agency, you must not give the impression you intend to discriminate.

For example:

An employer advertises for a ‘waitress’; to avoid direct discrimination because of sex, they should advertise for ‘waiting staff’ or ‘waiter or waitress’.

This does not apply if any of the exceptions listed apply in which case you could mention a particular protected characteristic in the job advertisement. 

Recruiting disabled people

If you do advertise a job, you must not state or imply that a job is unsuitable for disabled people generally or a disabled person with a particular type of impairment.

For example:

An employer is advertising for somebody to deliver parcels on their own; the advertisement states that the successful applicant will have to drive and be able to lift the parcels. The need to drive is clearly required for the job.  Although it may exclude some disabled people, eg those with a sight impairment, it would not exclude all disabled people.  It would therefore be wrong – and discriminatory – to put ‘unsuitable for disabled people’ in the job advert.

You must not state or imply that reasonable adjustments will not be made for a disabled person.

For example:

When a school is advertising for a teacher to work in a building on two floors which does not have a lift, they must not state that because of this the job would not be suitable ‘for a disabled person’. Instead, if they wish to address this issue in the advert, they could point out that the school is on two floors but that they would welcome applications from disabled people whatever their impairment and would make reasonable adjustments both at interview and on appointment for applicants with a mobility impairment. If the school interviews an applicant with a mobility impairment, it would be a reasonable adjustment to hold the interview somewhere with level access. If the successful applicant has a mobility impairment, a reasonable adjustment could be made to allow them to do their teaching on the ground floor and, if necessary, level access to the ground floor could be provided through the installation of a ramp if this did not already exist, provided these are reasonable adjustments.

If you want to, you can advertise a job as being open to disabled applicants only or you can say in an advert that you are encouraging disabled people to apply for a job. This is not unlawful discrimination against a non-disabled person. Equality law allows you to treat a disabled person better - or more favourably - than a non-disabled person. This can be done even if the disabled person is not at a specific disadvantage because of their disability in the particular situation. The reason the law was designed this way is to recognise that generally disabled people face a lot of barriers to participating in work and other activities.

Equality good practice: if you want to do more than equality law requires

  • If you want to address under-representation or disadvantage in your workforce through ‘positive action’, you can use an advertisement to encourage applications from people with a particular characteristic. But you cannot specify that you only want someone with a particular characteristic or that only people with that characteristic need apply (unless you are applying an occupational requirement, which is different from positive action). When using positive action, you must still choose the successful applicant because they are the best person for the job, not just because of a protected characteristic. You can read more about positive action.
  • You could use a logo to show that you encourage applications from people with a particular protected characteristic, for example, if you are authorised to use the ‘Two Ticks’ symbol to show that you want to encourage applications from disabled people.
  • Or you could use a statement to show that you want to encourage anyone who has the necessary skills, qualities and experience to apply such as:

‘We welcome enquiries from everyone and value diversity in our workforce.’

‘We are willing to consider flexible working arrangements.’

  • If you have an equality policy, you could mention this to tell people that your organisation wants to operate in a particular way.

Equality good practice: what you can do if you want to do more than equality law requires

  • If you want to address under-representation or disadvantage in your workforce through ‘positive action’, you can use an advertisement to encourage applications from people with a particular characteristic. But you cannot specify that you only want someone with a particular characteristic or that only people with that characteristic need apply (unless you are applying an occupational requirement, which is different from positive action). When using positive action, you must still choose the successful applicant because they are the best person for the job, not just because of a protected characteristic. You can read more about positive action later in this guide.
  • You could use a logo to show that you encourage applications from people with a particular protected characteristic, for example, if you are authorised to use the ‘Two Ticks’ symbol to show that you want to encourage applications from disabled people.
  • Or you could use a statement to show that you want to encourage anyone who has the necessary skills, qualities and experience to apply such as:
    • ‘We welcome enquiries from everyone and value diversity in our workforce.’
    • ‘We are willing to consider flexible working arrangements.’
  • If you have an equality policy, you could mention this to tell people that your organisation wants to operate in a particular way. 

More information

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