An employer may give or send you a monitoring form and ask you to tell them about your protected characteristics.
After the recruitment has finished, they may use this information to help them to see who has applied for the job and who has been selected, in terms of their protected characteristics.
If they find that people with a particular protected characteristic are not applying for jobs with them or are not getting jobs even though they apply, they may use this to try to find out why this is. They could then decide if they should be changing their recruitment processes at all to make sure they are not excluding good applicants unnecessarily.
Equality law does not say that an employer has to use a monitoring form to find out individual personal information about job applicants and their protected characteristics as part of the recruitment process.
But if an employer does use a monitoring form and this tells them about your protected characteristics, then they must not use this information to discriminate against you. For example, they must not base decisions about who to take further into the application process on the information you and other people give on the monitoring form.
In general, an employer must not ask a job applicant questions relating to health or disability. One of the exceptions to this rule applies to monitoring. An employer is allowed to ask questions about health or disability if the point of this is to find out how many job applicants are disabled people and whether they are shortlisted or appointed.
The answers you give to monitoring questions about health or disability should be dealt with by the employer in the same way as the answers to other monitoring questions, in other words, they should be kept separately from the main application form.
The person or people shortlisting and appointing should not see the information before deciding who to interview or appoint.
If, exceptionally, your protected characteristics are playing a part in the decision-making,
- if you are a disabled person and the employer is signed up to the guaranteed interview scheme, or
- if positive action is being used in recruitment for a particular job, or
- if the employer has applied an occupational requirement, or
- if it is either a legal requirement or otherwise objectively justifiable that you have to be a particular age to do a job, or
- if an employer is a religion or belief organisation and the job is one where you have to be of a particular religion or belief, or an employer is an organised religion or the job is for the purposes of an organised religion, and the job is one where it is necessary for you to have or not have a particular characteristic or behave in a particular way,
then the employer should make this clear in the information about the job and should ask you separately from the monitoring form if you have the relevant protected characteristic.
This makes sure that the person or people making the decision about who to interview or employ only see the information about protected characteristics that is relevant and do not need to see the monitoring form itself.
If an employer does use a monitoring form, then the information that is on it is likely to be personal and they should make sure that it is kept safely so that people’s confidentiality or data protection rights are not broken. This may be particularly important for some protected characteristics, such as gender reassignment, and some disabilities, such as HIV status and mental health conditions.
The employer should tell you:
- why they are collecting the information
- who will see the information
- what will be done with the information, including how they will make sure that the information will be treated confidentially
- how long they will keep your information
- how they will make sure it is not used for shortlisting or appointing to the job, for example, by separating it from the application form.
The employer should give you the choice to opt out of the process by including the option to tick ‘prefer not to say’ within each category.
You do not have to give the information or fill in the form or answer a particular question at all.
If you refuse to give the employer the information they ask for, they should not hold this against you.
However, it may help them to improve equality in their workplace if you do give them the information. But only do this if you are comfortable with what they have said about how it will be used and the safeguards they have put in place.
Last Updated: 19 Jan 2015