The legal rights of jobseekers with a disability

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Do employers have an obligation to ensure that their recruitment process is not biased against people with disabilities?

CAREERS’ panel of expert recruiters answers a reader’s question each week. Have a question? Email [email protected]

Do employers have an obligation to ensure that their recruitment process is not biased against people with disabilities?

Andrew Sullivan

Managing director,

Sullivan Consulting

Absolutely! Legally speaking, there is legislation that protects people with disabilities from discrimination during the recruitment process and in the workplace. Employers also have an obligation to their own business to be unbiased in their recruitment process, as disabilities do not inherently indicate a person’s ability, skill level, or work ethic. As such, by employing a biased approach, employers run the risk of unjustly rejecting or discounting a promising candidate. There are 10,000+ jobs currently available in South Australia, so there is ample opportunity out there!

Alexandra Rosser

Head of Organisational Psychology Consulting,

Stillwell Management Consultants

It is illegal for employers to discriminate against people on the basis of disability and this includes in their recruitment processes. Some of the ways in which employers can avoid disability discrimination in recruitment are by ensuring that job advertisements do not reference personal characteristics irrelevant to successful performance of the role, by providing a range of methods by which people can apply for the role, and by making reasonable adjustments to accommodate those with a disability to comfortably participate in interviews. Employers are permitted to ask reasonable questions about a person’s disability for the specific purposes of determining whether the person can perform the inherent requirements of the role, to assess any WHS risks to the person or others and to determine adjustments which may need to be made if the person is hired.

Lisa Morris

Director,

Hays

Employers have an obligation to ensure their recruitment process is free from discrimination and bias. This includes treating all candidates in the same way, making additional accommodations for people who may require them, such as wheelchair access, and not asking candidates irrelevant personal questions. Here at Hays, we also work with employers to remove any barriers in the recruitment or selection process that may prevent candidates with disabilities from applying for the job or progressing with their application. As part of this, we aim to educate hiring managers about unconscious bias, which can impact recruitment decisions. For instance, a good starting point for any hiring manager looking to ensure their hiring choices are free from bias is to take an Implicit Association Test, particularly the Disability Implicit Association Test.

Megan Nicholson

It is imperative that employers are not biased against people during a recruitment process and this includes people with a disability

Employers must follow their internal equal opportunities or antidiscrimination policies and the state Equal Opportunity Act. Employers need to advertise, select a suitable range of candidates, and interview fairly and objectively. It includes not asking questions on protected characteristics – this includes disabilities – and to offer the job objectively against a specific set of skills that are required for the role.

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