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Discriminating against applicants when hiring is a real possibility! See for yourself

by , 24 March 2016
As was reported on heraldlive.co.za earlier this month, three officials challenged, and had a victory over, the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Municipality, resulting in them rethinking how they hire staff in future.

Before, the municipality was hiring based on certain criteria (in this case South Africa's national demographics). But they'll now be calling upon Labour Minister, Mildrad Oliphant, to make local demographics a requirement for municipalities instead of national demographics...

Now from this news, it's apparent that the criteria for hiring staff are always under dispute. What amounts to discrimination and what doesn't can be a fine line at times.

All in all, it could be said that the municipality 'overstated' their selection criteria within the context of the local area.

But did you know that 'overstating' selection criteria can take many forms?

And if you make a mistake with them, you could end up having to pay an applicant up to 24-months' salary. Even though you haven't hired them!

Here are 2 criteria which, if used incorrectly to hire staff, can lead to indirect discrimination and a ticket to the CCMA...


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Criterion#1: Educational requirements

Educational requirements refer to things like an applicant's school-finishing certificate, college certificate, diploma or degree.

But a problem can arise when you overstate these requirements.

Now it's completely understandable that some fields of work, especially the professions, require a certain level of education, accompanied by formal qualifications.

But if a field of work doesn't necessarily require one, and an applicant has more than enough on-the-job experience, you risk discriminating against them because of your overstated educational requirements.
Criterion#2: Experience

It appears that the experience and education criteria here are a double-edged sword in that while you could discriminate against someone who has ample experience but is lacking in education, you could also discriminate against someone who has all the
qualifications, but hasn't had any opportunities to build experience in the past.
So then what can you do?

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It's understandable that many employers deliberately overstate the criteria of requirements for a position because they simply want the 'right' person for the job.

But the fact of the matter is that you shouldn't be overstating any of your hiring criteria at all because this can lead to bitter complaints and claims of 'indirect' discrimination.

You need to find a balance between the above two criteria, and avoid overstating one over the other, or any for that matter.  

IMPORTANT NOTE: In order to gain a clearer picture on how to be more compliant with the EEA when hiring, there are other criteria which you need to take into consideration alongside the 2 above-mentioned ones.

To see these other criteria, page over to Chapter A 06 in your Labour Law for Managers handbook.

Alternatively, you can click here.

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