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UK: Recruitment and selection

Original and updating author: Darren Newman
Consultant editor: Jo Broadbent


  • In recruitment and selection, employers are prohibited from discriminating against actual and potential job applicants because of the "protected characteristics" of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation. (See Discrimination)
  • If a job advertisement implies that applicants with a particular "protected characteristic" will be preferred, an individual who is consequently rejected may bring a discrimination claim against the employer. (See Advertising vacancies)
  • Discrimination and data protection law are relevant to some aspects of the selection process. For example, it is generally unlawful for an employer to ask about the health of a job applicant, or about any disability that he or she may have, before making an offer of employment, and the data protection legislation may apply to information gathered on job applicants, including during any background checks. (See Selection)
  • An employment contract is formed when an employee accepts an employer's job offer, although an employer may make a conditional offer if there are outstanding matters that it wishes to check before becoming contractually bound. (See Job offers)
  • The law affords special protection to children and young people in relation to employment, for example in terms of working time and health and safety. (See Young people and children)
  • In general, nationals of other European Economic Area countries and Switzerland are entitled to live and work in the UK without special permission, while other foreign nationals must pass a points-based assessment before they can be given permission to enter or remain in the UK for work purposes. (See Foreign nationals)