Dear HR Professional, You Can’t Ask That…

Liz joined the recruitment industry in 2006 and joined people2people in 2010 to assist with building business in Western Sydney..Read more

One of our recruitment consultants was working with a hiring manager from HR. This HR Manager called and asked if they knew when the job seeker they had represented was planning to start a family.  The question was literally, “Is she going to get pregnant in the next two years?”  Oh and this HR professional made it very clear that they wanted to know the answer to this question, so they could either rule the candidate in or out for a vacancy.

Seriously, I thought HR professionals were supposed to know better than that.

To keep is simple, YOU CAN’T ASK THAT.  It’s against the LAW.  You are not allowed to discriminate against any job seeker at any stage of the recruitment or employment process, based on their familial situation and the possibility of or actual pregnancy.  Quite frankly, if a woman who is ninety million years pregnant applies for a job with you, you are not allowed, under any circumstances, to refuse to employ her simply because she is about to give birth at any minute.  You are not allowed to make assumptions about her ability to do the work, to meet deadlines or to demonstrate the kind of commitment you require to the role just because she has an occupied uterus.

The ONLY time it would be even imaginable to discriminate against a pregnant woman, would be if the job was one that she would not be safe to undertake whilst pregnant e.g. if she would be exposed to radiation or toxins that would harm her or her unborn child and you could not readily make allowances for her to work in that environment.  Note, you can’t just say you’re not employing her because you don’t want to buy a special face mask; you would have to prove that it was uneconomical or impacted other employees in a significant way or would require unreasonable changes to business processes or the environment.  See how hard it is to justify discriminating against a pregnant woman?

And as for discriminating against a woman who isn’t even pregnant, but is between the age of 12 and 50 and may possibly have a functioning reproductive system, well, that’s just plain stupid.

Needless to say our recruitment consultant made it clear to this guru of human resources, that we would never ask a job seeker about their plans to breed and advised them that they should not ask it either. I hope (and expect) they have taken our advice.




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