January is typically a popular time for staff to change jobs, with an estimated one in five workers looking to move in the New Year. The phenomenon is likely to be heightened this year, with the new year coinciding with the so-called “Great Resignation”. A survey conducted in November 2021 of over 6,000 people in the UK found that 24% of employees planned to change jobs within the next three to six months, in part due to pandemic related burnout and/or having felt unable to move jobs during the pandemic.
As workers re-evaluate their jobs and look to change employers, the next couple of months may be a busy time for your HR department. If you anticipate the need to carry out a recruitment exercise, there’s certain documentation that you’ll need to prepare first. This will not only help you to comply with your legal obligations (eg in relation to equality and data protection law), but it will also improve your chances of attracting appropriate candidates to the role. If you have templates in place from previous recruitment rounds, make sure you review these carefully before using them again, making any necessary adaptations and updates.
Get your ducks in a row and streamline the process to finding your new hire by preparing the following:
1. A job description
This should include the job title, who the member of staff will report to and/or be responsible for, and the main duties and responsibilities of the role. It’s important that your job description is accurate to avoid the need to make any changes to your staff member’s duties once they’ve been hired, which you may need their consent for. You must also be careful to avoid discrimination in choosing who to interview or hire, for instance by:
- Avoiding including any information in the job description that is not objectively justifiable. For instance, if you state the role involves a certain task that is not in practice part of the role, this could be discriminatory unless you can objectively justify its inclusion. For example, if your job description says that ‘regular Sunday working’ will be required when in fact Sunday working is infrequent, your job description could dissuade some Christians who do not wish to work on Sundays from applying.
- Avoiding using language in your job description which suggests a preference based on protected characteristics, such as gender, disability or age (eg stating that you’re looking for an ‘energetic, young candidate’)
- Avoiding specifying working hours or patterns that aren’t necessary (eg stating a job is full-time when it could also be performed part-time)
2. A person specification
This should set out both the minimum necessary skills, abilities, experience and qualifications that the ideal applicant should possess, as well as those which, while desirable, are not strictly necessary. It’s a good idea to draft these requirements in broad terms to give you some flexibility in how you assess applications (and encourage a wider range of candidates to apply).
You must be careful to avoid discrimination in choosing who to interview or hire, which means amongst other things:
- Ensuring all of the criteria you set out is relevant and objectively justifiable in relation to the job role;
- Avoiding being unnecessarily prescriptive when describing what skills or qualifications are required (eg because older candidates are unlikely to have certain types of qualifications), for instance by making it clear you will accept equivalents;
- Except in very limited circumstances, avoid including a health, fitness or other physical requirement
Use our template to prepare a person specification for your recruitment round.
3. A staff recruitment privacy notice
To comply with data protection law, you must provide prospective job applicants with certain privacy information before they apply. It is common to do this by making a staff recruitment privacy notice available to them with your job advertisement (eg by putting it on the recruitment page of your website and referring to it in your ad).
Your staff recruitment privacy notice should set out, amongst other things, what personal data you will be collecting from applicants, what you will do with it and what their rights are under data protection law. Failing to provide this information can result in sanctions against your business from the ICO, including significant fines.
For a template staff recruitment privacy notice you can adapt for your hiring process, see our Staff recruitment privacy notice.
4. A data protection impact assessment (DPIA)
A DPIA helps you to consider any risks to data security posed by your planned recruitment process, and is required if your use or storage of personal information about candidates is likely to result in a high risk to their rights and freedoms. For most standard recruitment processes you will not be legally required to carry out a DPIA, but it’s important to be aware of the circumstances in which you are. This might be the case if, for example, you will be using automated decision-making or profiling as part of your recruitment exercise (eg to mark a psychometric assessment) or if you’ll be gathering information about applicants’ health on a large scale.
See our Q&A for further guidance about the circumstances in which you might be required to carry out a DPIA.
5. A job application form
Whilst you may wish to simply invite applications by way of CV and a cover letter, in some circumstances it might be appropriate for you to produce a standardised application form for candidates. This can help you to ensure a consistent approach to your assessment of candidates, and avoid you sorting through irrelevant information.
For guidance about what to include in your job application form, see our Q&A.
6. An equality and diversity monitoring form
Whilst not a legal requirement, you may wish to monitor equality and diversity during your recruitment exercise. This will help you to build a picture of who’s applying to your organisation and to keep equality of opportunity under review. You can do this by sending applicants a voluntary equality and diversity monitoring form, which collects information about their age group, disabilities, marital status, race, nationality, religion etc. The form should be sent out separately and stored apart from your application form (if you’re using one) and any other documentation that identifies the individual, as it’s important for the information to be kept anonymised at all times.
For further guidance about using an equality and diversity monitoring form, see our Q&A on Advertising a job.
Prepared all of the above? Now you’re ready to advertise the role! For detailed practical guidance about hiring new staff, from the beginning to the end of the process, see our Q&A on Hiring staff.
Before joining Sparqa Legal as a Senior Legal Editor in 2017, Frankie spent five years training and practising as a corporate disputes and investigations lawyer at leading international law firm Hogan Lovells. As legal insights lead, Frankie regularly contributes to Sparqa Legal’s blog, writing content across employment law, data protection, disputes and more.