The Government has recently announced that it is withdrawing its controversial, albeit in-part successful, work experience scheme where sanctions could be applied for non-compliance.
The scheme met with a great deal of public disapproval, which in turn led the businesses involved concerned by the associated negative publicity, to withdraw from the scheme as fast as they could.
A recent case demonstrates a further issue related to work experience that may give employers concern. In the Northern Irish case of Crilly v Ballymagroarty Halzelbank Community Partnership, the Partnership advertised a position which required two years’ relevant work experience in the last five years. The Claimant applied for the position but was not shortlisted for the post and claimed indirect sex discrimination. The Claimant did not have the required two years’ work experience in the last five as she had spent the last six years caring for her young family. She did however, have a large amount of relevant experience prior this career break.
The Tribunal decided that the requirement for two years’ experience in the last five had a disproportionate adverse impact on women. They found that women were far more likely than men to have periods of unemployment on their CV whilst they were looking after the family. The Tribunal also found that this requirement had an adverse impact on the Claimant herself.
The Tribunal did not accept the employer’s defence that the requirement was a proportionate means of achieving legitimate aim, as it considered that, amongst other things, the Partnership’s standard two-month induction process would have resolved any problems that might have arisen.
This case re-emphasizes the fact that employers need to carefully consider their recruitment criteria and job adverts to ensure that they do not fall foul of the discrimination legislation.