3 legal considerations to remember when hiring employees

Before you start to interview job candidates be sure you know what you can and cannot legally ask.

By Henry Brown

Hiring new employees for your small business can be a lengthy and often difficult process. It’s also one of your most important roles as a boss because your business runs on the strength of your team. If you aren’t recruiting the best people for the job, you aren’t going to be successful.

One thing people often forget or overlook during the recruitment process are the legal considerations. There are all sorts of rules and regulations in business, and the hiring process is no exception. If you don’t understand the legal implications of hiring new employees, you could accidentally find yourself on the wrong side of the law, which will cause you all manner of problems. If you’re about to start recruiting new staff members, don’t forget these legal issues.

The job advertisement

You wouldn’t think that you could find yourself on the wrong side of the law because of a job advert, but you can. There are certain discrimination laws in place and that means there are a lot of things that you can’t do when you’re advertising the job you have available.

[amazon_link asins=’B004Z9CE2E’ template=’ProductAd’ store=’succeedingi0d-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’e44d390f-a60a-11e8-8320-c93986c12cea’]You can’t make any mention of race or gender, of course. That goes without saying, and most employers already know this. But when it comes to the actual job description itself, you need to be careful. For example, a job that requires heavy lifting cannot be advertised with any guidelines about physical ability, because this may discriminate against people with disabilities. You can state that heavy lifting is involved, but you cannot request that only people with certain physical capabilities can apply. The best thing to do when you’re writing a job advert is to stick to a factual description of the job, list some of the basic skills and qualifications that an applicant should have, and leave it at that.

Work visas

This is a big one. If you’re found to be employing somebody that doesn’t have the legal right to work in this country, you’ll be held accountable. The fines for employing illegal workers can be massive and could land you in some real financial trouble. Obviously, when people are applying you need to request some proof of the right to work, but that’s not enough. There’s always the chance that you’ll be presented with fake documents and you probably won’t spot them. That’s why it’s best to be safe and get a business immigration attorney to look over everything for you before you agree to hire anybody. It’s worth paying the extra money for peace of mind.

[amazon_link asins=’1626343829′ template=’ProductAd’ store=’succeedingi0d-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’f50a32b8-a60a-11e8-a79c-c12e4bb92364′]The interview

Before you start interviewing people, it’s smart to look over those discrimination laws again. The way that you word questions in the interview is very important. For example, if you’re offering a job that requires a lot of overtime and flexible hours, that isn’t ideal for somebody with children. However, if you ask ‘do you have children?’ in the interview, that’s considered discrimination. What you need to do instead is explain that the job requires them to work irregular hours and ask if there is any reason that would be a problem for them.

Even if it’s a completely innocent mistake, breaking any of these rules during the hiring process can land you in a lot of trouble so just be vigilant.


Henry Brown is an online marketing executive. When he isn’t talking shop he’s roaming the streets of London, uncovering the extra-ordinary in the ordinary.

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