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Are You Ever Allowed To Discriminate In A Job Advert?

Are You Ever Allowed To Discriminate In A Job Advert?

Are You Ever Allowed To Discriminate In A Job Advert?

A few weeks back, a client approached us saying that they wanted to only recruit someone with a certain religious faith. On the surface, and in most instances, this would be classed as discrimination and would be illegal.

In this instance, though, it was for a religious organisation, which are covered by an exception in the Equality ACT 2010 Schedule 9. However, it highlights the issue and importance of knowing what you shouldn’t ask for in a job advert and what you can’t ask for in a job advert.

Justifying Reasonable Discrimination 

When advertising, the job advert needs to make it clear why the certain ‘protected characteristic’ is required.

For example, a job description that might include a protected characteristic would be job advertising for a male/female care worker, corresponding to the relevant gender of the patient. In this situation, most I am sure would understand why the protected characteristic is used.

Here are three steps which you should take to help make sure your advert complies with the law:

  • Is there a valid reason why you need to employ someone with a protected characteristic?
  • If your advertised job role doesn’t have a need for a protected characteristic, make sure that your advert doesn’t mention/imply that any of the protected characteristics will be used when employing someone.
  • If your job role does require a protected characteristic to be successful, be clear as to why it is required, and make mention of the law which is being used to allow the exemption.


The protected characteristics are:

  • Gender
  • Race
  • Sexuality
  • Marriage
  • Civil partnership
  • Pregnancy and maternity
  • Religion or belief
  • Age
  • Gender reassignment

In answering the original question “Are you ever allowed to discriminate in a job advert”, the answer is yes you are in a few circumstances.

If you have a role which you are unsure about, our best advice would be to speak to a legal professional specialising in employment law to make sure you don’t run afoul of discrimination laws.

Help With Job Advertising

For help writing job descriptions we provide a wide range of job description templates/examples and job advert templates/examples.

For fixed cost recruitment/job advertising or flat fee recruitment/job advertising on the most effective job board/s, please contact the Hiring People team.

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