How can I avoid using discriminatory language?
When drafting job descriptions, use language that is clear, simple and non-discriminatory.
Do not use job titles which have a distinctly male or female connotation. Instead, use job titles that are gender neutral, if possible. For example:
- Waiting Staff instead of Waiter or Waitress
- Sales Assistant/Person instead of Salesman or Salesgirl
- Stores Person instead of Storeman
Do not use job titles which have an age-related connotation. The words ‘junior’ and ‘senior’ when used in job titles do not usually have an age-related connotation and are generally acceptable. However, there may be exceptions. For example, the job title of ‘Office Junior’ has an age-related connotation as this could reasonably indicate that an employer intends to fill the post with a recent school leaver, or another young person. It would be better to use an alternative job title such as ‘Office Clerk’ or ‘Administrative Assistant’.
Should I use photographs or pictures?
Take care to ensure that the advertisement as a whole, through its words and pictures, does not give the impression that you might be seeking to recruit a person with a particular equality ground characteristic: e.g. a photograph that shows men but not women; white people only, young people only or people without disabilities.
If you wish include a photograph or drawing of people in your advertisement then you should also add a prominent equal opportunities statement to the advertisment to show that you welcome applications from all suitably qualified persons. If this is not included your advertisement may give the impression that you are seeking to recruit people who only match the profile of those featured in the image.
Should I include an equal opportunities statement?
In some circumstances, such as those described above, you should always add an equal opportunities statement to your advertisements. In general it is a good practice to add such statements to your advertisements as these help to promote equality of opportunity.
The content of a statement is a matter for each employer to decide in the light of their own circumstances. The following are examples of statements typically used by employers:
“We are an equal opportunities employer”
“We are an equal opportunities employer and we welcome applications from all suitably qualified persons”
“We are an equal opportunities employer and we welcome applications from all suitably qualified persons regardless of their sex; religious or similar philosophical belief; political opinion; race; age; sexual orientation; or, whether they are married or are in a civil partnership; or, whether they are disabled; or whether they have undergone, are undergoing or intend to undergo gender reassignment.”
What is a 'welcoming statement'?
This is a special type of equal opportunities statement. An equal opportunities statement welcomes applications from everyone, but a welcoming statement targets a specific group of people; i.e. a group who are under-represented in the workforce, such as men or women, Protestants or Roman Catholics, disabled people.
If a group is under-represented in your workplace and you decide to take affirmative or positive action, then you should add an appropriate welcoming statement to your job advertisements. For example:
“We are an equal opportunities employer. We welcome applications from all suitably qualified persons. However, as women are currently under-represented in our workforce, we would particularly welcome applications from women.”
What is a positive action statement?
It is also a good practice to add to job advertisements a notice to alert potential applicants that you provide certain perks or benefits which, although available to all persons, might help you to attract applications from members of an under-represented group.
A short sentence could be included to let potential applicants know that flexible working arrangements are available. This arrangement must be made available to all of your staff, but it is something that will help you attract applications from women who have caring responsibilities.
Recruiting People With Disabilities
We have produced new guidance on recruiting people with disabilities. This includes useful information about the reasonable adjustment duty, good practice and taking positive action. Read our guidance
Should I declare genuine occupational requirements?
Where you intend, and are permitted, to set a genuine occupational requirement job criterion, then you should declare this in the advertisement.
What are composite advertisements and statutory exceptions?
A composite advertisement is one in which two or more different vacant posts are being advertised.
If you intend to place a composite advertisement, and if one of the jobs requires a ‘welcoming statement’ or a genuine occupational requirement, you should clearly note which post these relate to. The advertisement should not give the impression that the criterion or statement applies to posts that cannot lawfully rely on it.
Can I advertise in languages other than English?
Some employers advertise their job vacancies in English and in other languages, for example Irish and/or Ulster Scots. They might do this even when an ability to speak Irish and/or Ulster Scots are not needed for the jobs in question and do not form part of the job criteria. This is usually done for public policy reasons; i.e. to promote the use of these languages. It is not unlawful for employers to do this, and it is a matter that you, as an employer, may freely do if you so wish.
In other situations where a language is an objectively justified job criterion, the relevant employers sometimes place bi-lingual advertisements in English and the language in question. This too is a lawful practice and has the advantage of providing information to the general reader about the nature of the job criteria.
Can I use single-language advertising? (without English)
In the situations as described above, it is not necessary for the relevant employers to advertise bilingually. They may lawfully place advertisements that are only in the non-English language, if they so wish. The only pre-condition is that the language criterion in question is objectively justified.