There was a time when you would see jobs advertised as “police man”, “storeman”, “bar maid” or “air hostess”. These titles directed you to the gender of who should apply for the roles. Those days are now long gone and you will see these outdated titles replaced with new titles such as “police officer”, “storeperson”, “bartender” and “flight attendant”.
So why did these titles need to change?
In a nutshell, these gendered job titles are discriminatory. The Victoria Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission state that as an employer, it is your legal obligation to avoid discrimination when recruiting.
Job ads must be written in a way that does not discourage some people from applying for the role or inferring that only certain applicants will be considered. Using words such as young, mature, man or woman could be viewed as discriminatory. An example would be “seeking a mature storeman with 5 plus years’ experience.
Section 86 of the Federal Sex Discrimination Act makes it unlawful to publish or display an advertisement that indicates an intention to discriminate on the grounds of sex, marital status, pregnancy or potential pregnancy.
The Federal Sex Discrimination Act bars both direct and indirect discrimination. Direct discrimination arises when a person is treated less favourably due to their sex, relationship status, pregnancy or potential pregnancy whereas indirect discrimination related to policies and practices that on the surface appear neutral however they have a negative effect of disadvantaging persons of a specific sex, specific relationship status or pregnancy status.
The Federal Sex Discrimination Act imposes a $1000 fine for individuals and a $5000 fine for corporations in breach of section 86 of the Act.
Every step of the recruitment process should be non-discriminatory. This not only includes advertising the position but also conducting interviews and selecting the successful candidate.
How many times in an interview have you asked questions such as “do you have any children?” or “are you married?” as questions to break the ice and try and make the candidate feel more comfortable. These are a big NO NO! You may not realise it but this questions would be considered as discriminatory. If the candidate was not successful they could argue it was due to the fact they have children or were married.
Next time you are recruiting make sure you are not using any language that is discriminatory to avoid landing in hot water.
If you need assistance please give HR Gurus a call on 1300 959 560.
Written by resident HR Guru Natalie Bol.