The hiring process is an important stage of the employment relationship, but it can be full of minefields for you as an employer. You must put the time in to ensure you are hiring the right people in a manner that complies with employment law to minimize your liability exposure. These are hiring practices to inform you of the do’s and dont’s of hiring to avoid unfair methods.

Hiring Practices

Once you hire an employee, it won’t be straightforward to end the relationship should you decide they are not working well for your business. For this reason, you must put the time into making sure you hire the right people. You will want to gather as much information regarding your candidates as possible, but this can be a legal minefield. You have to be careful to get the information you need in a manner that minimizes your liability exposure involving unfair employment law as well as respects your candidate’s rights.

Do ask all applicants to provide a well-drafted employment application. Your first contact with your applicants is through the employment application or, in some cases, a resume. If you are only given a resume, ask that they also fill out an application. The application allows you to gather specific information you can use as an evaluation. Some information is legal for you to ask for, some are not. You want to make sure you are requesting legitimate questions on your applications. You are legally allowed to ask:

  • The applicant’s name and address.
  • Confirmation they are legally permitted to work in your state.
  • School information, such as which schools they attended, which degrees they obtained, and training they’ve received. Don’t, however, ask for dates any of this education was completed, as it could be construed you are inquiring into their age.
  • Do look into all listed references. References are a useful way to gather information, but one a lot of employers fail to follow through on. If you don’t plan on following up on references, then you should not ask for them. Information given by references should be filed as it can be a tool should you later decide you need to let the employee go.
  • Do use Social Media for screening. Instagram and Facebook can be a rich source of information when looking into prospective employees. You have to be careful with this information, however, as you can’t ‘unknown’ this information. Once you know something about a person, such as where they are in protected groups, not hiring them might lead back to a discrimination issue.
  • Don’t ask questions that can violate human rights laws. You have to be careful what information you ask when it’s related to personal characteristics. Some of this information is protected under human rights laws and includes sex, mental disabilities, physical disabilities, gender expression, sexual orientation, family status, and religion.
  • Don’t make promises. As an employer, you want to be careful what you say to a candidate to try and convince them to take a position. This point is especially important if the candidate already has a secure job. Don’t promise higher salaries or promotions, but instead include a termination clause and an agreement clause in the employment contract for insurance purposes should termination become an issue in the future.

One of your primary responsibilities as a business is to operate within the law. Keeping within the law for business means you have to implement workplace safety, pay your taxes, follow employment law, and ensure you do not use any unfair hiring practices.