Employer Career Zone

Avoiding Discrimination

The information on these pages is presented solely for the purposes of explaining and clarifying Employment Services policies concerning the vetting of job adverts submitted to the University of Exeter. This text does not represent any authoritative statement of the law and acceptance or rejection of any vacancy under these guidelines should not be taken as a statement regarding the legitimacy of any organisation or vacancy.

All the information given on this page was, to the best of our knowledge, correct at the time of writing. However, employment legislation is constantly changing and we cannot guarantee the factual accuracy of any information presented in this text. We accept no liability for any actions taken as a consequence of following these guidelines.

You should refer any doubts on legal questions to suitably qualified legal professionals.

The Basics of Discrimination

All adverts posted on our site should comply with best practice with regard to avoiding discrimination. In the context of job adverts, discrimination occurs when a person with one or more “protected characteristics” is somehow excluded or disadvantaged by the requirements of a role. There are two types of discrimination:

  • Direct discrimination occurs when a protected group is explicitly excluded. For example, if an advert says the post is only open to male candidates then the advert has discriminated directly against women.
  • Indirect discrimination occurs when, although a particular group is not explicitly excluded, one of the requirements of the role has a disproportionate impact on a protected group. This is the most common form of discrimination we encounter.

Both sorts of discrimination are usually unlawful. If a candidate believes they have been unfairly discriminated against by the requirements listed in your job advert, they may be able to take legal action against you.

However, in some circumstances, it can be lawful to discriminate if the requirement in question is an essential aspect of the role or, conversely, if possession of a particular quality would make carrying out the role impossible. If this applies to your vacancy, you must make sure the reasons for the requirement are clearly and explicitly explained within the text of the advert.

You should be certain that any potentially discriminatory requirements are essential to the role. Anyone viewing your adverts can challenge a requirement they feel may be discriminatory and you would be required to provide objective justification for having the requirement. If you are unable to do this, a candidate may be able to pursue legal action against you.

The protected characteristics, in alphabetical order, are:

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Gender reassignment
  • Marriage and civil partnership
  • Pregnancy and maternity
  • Race
  • Religion and belief
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation

Further information on protected groups and forms of discrimination can be found on the Equality and Human Rights Commission website.

In the subsections of these pages, you can find some examples of the most common forms of discrimination we come across.

How we screen your vacancies

We make reasonable effort to screen vacancies according to the guidelines listed above. However, we make no guarantee to check every vacancy or that vacancies that are checked will meet the requirements of current employment legislation.

All vacancies are submitted at the employer’s own risk.

Although we normally attempt to inform employers regarding any significant changes made to their adverts, we reserve the right to remove or amend any content in the published version that we believe risk violating employment law, without notice.