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When it can be lawful do discriminate against a job applicant

Genuine Occupational Qualifications – also known as GOQ’s

In the UK it is unlawful to discriminate against a job applicant on the grounds of race, sex, age, disability, sexual orientation or religion. This applies to both the recruitment process and the job advertisement.

Having said that there are exceptions to the rule, and these limited circumstances are referred to as a Genuine Occupational Qualification. This basically means that in certain circumstances a employer can advertise and recruit a person from a particular sex, social or minority group because its essential for a specific job role. For instance a local authority may need a youth worker from a specific ethnic minority to be able to reach youngsters from that ethnic group. Another example could be that of a film production company that requires a actress to play the part of a woman in a soap opera.

It must be necessary and not just preferable for a role to be carried out by a particular sex.

Under these circumstances it is lawful for a recruiter to discriminate in the diversity training, recruitment or promotion of a individual. However strict guidelines and rules must be adhered to in these circumstances.

Advertising a job with a GOQ exemption

If you as a employer you feel that you may need a GOQ exemption for a particular vacancy then you should plan for this before you advertise the position. Carry out a assessment of the role and list in detail why a person of a particular sex or race must fill that position.

Also remember that when you are designing the job advert you should put in it a statement saying why only certain people need apply. Below are brief examples of what you could use:

‘Section 9 (2)(b) of the Employment (Sex Discrimination) Act 2000 applies to this post’,

Another statement you could put in is:

‘This post is exempt under the Employment (Sex Discrimination) Act 2000.”

If you are not sure how to word it then its best to seek professional legal advice beforehand, as it is your responsibility to ensure the advert is correctly written out.


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