Recruiters have been urged to ensure their clients know they cannot advertise a role in Britain solely in a foreign language, unless it is a job requirement, or face hefty fines and potentially devastating damage to their agency’s reputation.
The warning follows research, published yesterday by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, that shows just 39% of businesses they surveyed knew that it is against the law to advertise jobs in Britain exclusively in a foreign language, unless the ability to speak that language is a genuine requirement of the job.
According to Christopher Tutton, partner at law firm Constantine Law, to break these rules would constitute positive discrimination and would expose an employer, and any recruiter they instruct, to claims at employment tribunal.
Tutton told Recruiter: “Such claims are of course uncapped in terms of the potential award, so could be very expensive, not to mention disastrous for a firm’s reputation.
“The free movement of people is one of the key issues in the upcoming Brexit negotiations, and employers and recruiters should ensure that their processes are lawful to avoid claims and reputational damage.”
Meanwhile Sarah Burke, associate solicitor at law firm Irwin Mitchell, warned agencies that publish discriminatory job advertisements are also likely to be subject to the naming and shaming by the media and relevant bodies if discriminatory practices take place.
Consequently, Burke advises recruiters understand the law before publishing job advertisements, even if the employer assists on advertising exclusively in one language or requiring someone with particular language skills.
“As part of this, recruitment businesses would be wise to obtain further information from the employer or client to understand the requirements of the role and whether they are genuine requirements, and to consider taking legal advice if they have concerns about advertising certain roles,” Burke told Recruiter in a statement.
“In addition, recruitment businesses would also be wise to look at their terms and conditions with their clients to ensure it is clear that they will not tolerate and/or participate in discriminatory actions so that this is clear from the outset,” she added.
The EHRC research also revealed less than half of workplaces (45%) knew that employers must check that all job applicants have a right to work in the UK before employing them, irrespective of their place of birth; more than one in 20 employers (6%) thought it was legal to offer foreign-born workers less than the minimum wage; and almost one in 10 (9%) believed it was lawful to pay foreign-born workers different rates to their British colleagues.