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Get it right: human rights in hiring

Could your job posting or application form open you to accusations of discrimination based on protected traits such as age, sex, race or religion?

HRM talked to employment lawyer Gita Anand, from Miller Thomson, about what employers need to know when it comes to human rights and the hiring process.

For more legal advice go to HRM's Labour and Employment Law pages.

Video transcript below:

Caitlin Nobes, HRM Online
Caitlin Nobes:
 Employers don’t set out to discriminate against job candidates.  So how can you protect your company from accidental breaches.  Today on HRM TV we are looking at human rights and the hiring process.  

The human rights code protects individuals from discrimination from grounds such as race, sex and religion.  Even if your company doesn’t intend to discriminate, poor wording in advertisements and the wrong questions on an application form could open it to liability.  

Gita Anand, Partner, Miller Thomson
Gita Anand:
 We cannot ask a question that are related to prohibited grounds such as place of birth, name and location of schools for example.  The interview process is also subject to human rights code consideration.  Employers must be careful not to directly or indirectly ask any questions that relate to the prohibited grounds under the code.

Caitlin Nobes:  Asking questions about marital status, disability or country of origin are some ways to open your company up to accusations of discrimination.  If you are running background checks, make sure you don’t make decisions based on prohibited grounds.  If possible the decision maker should only receive information that is relevant and not prohibited.  Training is the best defence against breaching human rights code.

Gita Anand:  We would recommend that an organisation adopt policies with respect to hiring, so that the adhoc nature of hiring does not occur because oftentimes that’s when the human rights implications arise.  We would recommend training those who are involved in writing the job postings, those who are involved in the interview process and those who are involved in the reference check process, those who are involved in reviewing the results of third party medicals or medical testing.

Caitlin Nobes:  Employers and their HR teams should review application forms and put in place a set of guidelines for every step of the hiring process to ensure they comply with the human rights code.  I am Caitlin Nobes, thanks for watching HRM TV.