It was recently reported that Lancashire’s AFC Fylde posted an advert for a general manager, warning prospective candidates not to apply if they wanted a work-life balance. The post has since been deleted due to an online backlash labelling it discriminatory.
The job description reportedly stated that the club was seeking a general manager to work alongside the director of football and report directly into the Chairman. It is understood that the advert continued to read: “This is a hands-on role and requires hands-on leadership from the front so delegators and office dwellers please don’t apply….If not already apparent, we are not a Premiership club and therefore every penny and every fan has to be fought for and respected….You will need to be proactive in your approach to everything…We work hard at Fylde so again, don’t apply if you are looking for a work-life balance or have to pick up the kids from school twice a week at 15:30.”
The advert was criticised by many social media users as being “discriminatory”, “unprofessional” and “inept”.
A spokesperson for the Equality and Human Rights Commission has since stated “This type of advert should be relegated to the past. Having to pick children up from school does not mean people are any less committed to their job…Flexible working brings many benefits to an organisation and opens up the talent available for businesses to hire….This advert is likely to be discriminatory and we are contacting them to remind them of their legal duties.”
The club have reportedly declined to comment on the matter.
Avoiding discrimination in job adverts
When preparing job adverts, employers must ensure that they do not discriminate against prospective candidates on the grounds of a protected characteristic (age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief and sex).
Whilst claims in respect of job adverts are rare, they do happen from time to time and are typically for direct or indirect discrimination.
Direct discrimination – If a job advert specifically states that an employer only wants to hear from those who meet a specific criteria, and therefore excludes others with a protected characteristic, it could amount to direct discrimination. The exception to this is if there is an occupational requirement for the employee to have a certain protected characteristic, in which case the advert should set out that the requirement is permitted by Schedule 9, part 1 of the Equality Act 2010.
Indirect discrimination – If a job advert sets out an apparently neutral criteria that puts potential applicants sharing a protected characteristic at a disadvantage, the employer must be able to show that the criteria is a proportionate way of achieving a legitimate aim to avoid successful claims for indirect discrimination. Many employers faced with claims can show a legitimate reason for their criteria but fall down in being able to evidence that it is proportionate.
If you have any queries on how to avoid discriminatory job adverts, dealing with discrimination in the workplace, or if you have any other Employment Law or HR queries, please do not hesitate to contact our Employment team on 01228 552600 or 01524 548494.