Discrimination against “unreliable” workers
Employer told not to post advert for ‘reliable’ workers because it discriminates against ‘unreliable’ applicants
When it comes to hiring staff, there are plenty of legal pitfalls employers need to watch out for these days.
So recruitment agency boss Nicole Mamo was especially careful to ensure her advert for hospital workers did not offend on grounds of race, age or sexual orientation.
However, she hadn’t reckoned on discriminating against a wholly different section of the community – the completely useless.
When she ran the ad past a job centre, she was told she couldn’t ask for ‘reliable’ and ‘hard-working’ applicants because it could be offensive to unreliable people.
‘In my 15 years in recruitment I haven’t heard anything so ridiculous,’ Mrs Mamo said yesterday.
‘If the matter wasn’t so serious I would be laughing out loud.
‘Unfortunately it’s extremely alarming. I need people who are hardworking and reliable – and I am pleased to discriminate in that way. If they’re not then I really can’t use them. The reputation of my business is on the line.
‘Even the woman at the jobcentre agreed it was ridiculous but explained it was policy because they could get sued for being dicriminatory against unreliable people.
‘She told me they’d had lots of problems with people taking them to court for adverts stating something like “would suit school leaver”.’
Mrs Mamo, 48, of Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, runs Devonwood Recruitment, which supplies hundreds of cleaners, caterers and porters to hospitals across the country.
She filed the advert for a £5.80-an-hour domestic cleaner at a hospital in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, through the Jobcentre Plus online service last Thursday.
However, when she rang the nearest branch in Thetford, Norfolk, to make sure details would be available to jobseekers who turned up in person, she was transferred to a woman who said the wording was unacceptable.
Mrs Mamo, a divorced mother of two, added: ‘I had to battle to have “must speak English”, which they also said was discriminatory.
‘In the end, I had to write “must speak English due to health and safety reasons” because they’re dealing with hazardous materials.’
The diktat was widely criticised yesterday. A spokesman for the Campaign Against Political Correctness said: ‘This is absolutely ridiculous.
‘Of course people want reliable workers and employers should be able to ask for them. If they can’t advertise for what they want then the system is broken.’
The Equality and Human Rights Commission added: ‘This is in no way in breach of any discrimination law.
‘Mrs Mamo should consider very unreliable any advice that she may have received implying that this aspect of her advert was discriminatory.’
Yesterday the Department for Work and Pensions said it could not comment on the conversation Mrs Mamo had with the member of staff at Thetford.
However, a spokesman insisted her original advert had run on the Jobcentre Plus website and on computer terminals in branches.
She added: ‘Reliability is important to employers and we welcome ads seeking reliable applicants.’