This is related to a previous question. When a university posts a public ad for a vacancy does it only have to follow its internal policy for conflicts of interest or is there also some law that applies? What is the legal framework under which the recruitment happens?

1 Answer 1


I am not a lawyer, but as I understand it, the main legislation that must be followed when hiring in the UK is the Equalities Act 2010, which states that Direct discrimination, Indirect discrimination or discrimination by association is illegal if the discrimination arises from a protected characteristic. The protected characteristics are: age, disability, gender reassignment, married or people in civil partnerships, pregnant people and those on maternity leave, race, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation.

Beyond that Universities, like all private employers are free to set their own guidelines for recruitment. Most universities do have pretty strict codes for recruitment however, both to ensure they employ the best person for the job, but also to guard against the possibility of a case being brought under the above legislation (if you hired your white sister, rather than a black person, that might be a case of race discrimination).

  • "if you hired your white sister, rather than a black person, that might be a case of race discrimination" ...only if you hired her because she was white and the other candidate was not, and not because she was your sister. Oct 15, 2019 at 13:08
  • True, but the university doesn't want the stress of having to prove it was because she was your sister, rather than that the other candidate was black. If you have a black candidate who was clearly better than the candidate hired, that would be sufficient evidence to go to tribunal at least. Oct 15, 2019 at 13:37
  • @IanSudbery Academic recruitment criteria are not fully objective - there is no tool to measure "excellent teaching" and "outstanding research". If the recruitment committee recorded the decision that candidate A is better, there is usually little formal evidence to prove otherwise (unless candidate B lied in their CV or faked qualification documents). Oct 15, 2019 at 16:28
  • The reason we are made to keep score sheets, even if we mostly know that the scores are made up, is so that the university has records if they should ever be challenged in such a case. You always have to be able to give a reason why you chose candidate A over B, in terms of the specified person profile. These rules aren't primarily to make recruitment objective, but to cover the universities behind should anyone every claim they were discriminated against. Oct 15, 2019 at 16:35
  • I would guess that if the person hired were a family member of the person doing the hiring, and the reject person was from a protected group that would be enough prima-facie evidence to take the case to tribunal. I'm not saying the complainant would win. Oct 15, 2019 at 16:38

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