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To be pretty certain this isn't legal?

(16 Posts)
NotSayingImBatman Sat 20-Dec-14 10:53:47

I'm currently job hunting and have been applying for various different jobs, mostly in the public sector.

I was filling out an application form yesterday that contained the question "Are you currently pregnant/on maternity leave?". Bear in mind, this wasn't a physical job so there could be no worry of potential injury to a pregnant or postnatal woman.

So, AIBU to think this was, legally, drifting into fairly murky water?

Andrewofgg Sat 20-Dec-14 11:11:36

H'mm. Could the question mean When can you start? because that's a reasonable question if you want someone who can give notice to the present employer and then be ready for work.

Cornettoninja Sat 20-Dec-14 11:12:11

I would say so, it doesn't sit well does it?

Is it a smallish company? Personally I'd avoid it based off that question, I would put good money on them being a nightmare to work for.

EustaciaBenson Sat 20-Dec-14 12:11:59

Unless it also asked if someone was on paternity leave then very dodgy. If there were chemicals or heavy manual labour involved then there are better ways to deal with this e.g. a detailed job description. Id avoid working for them to be honest as they clearly arent too bothered about being sexist.

Timeforabiscuit Sat 20-Dec-14 12:20:59

They can ask, but they can't discriminate.

The trouble is , managers can discriminate (long gaps in cv , children mentioned in the personal statement )sometimes without realising, sometimes not.

So to protect a large companies arse you can monitor this (and negate any potential bad practice, and costly legal actions) by looking at applications, removing the details so that they are effectively blind and you can spot any bias in screening for interview call ups and then on to job offers.

Purplepoodle Sat 20-Dec-14 12:26:04

I don't think they are allowed to ask that. Definitely not in interviews

NotSayingImBatman Sat 20-Dec-14 12:50:24

No mention of paternity, and no way to distinguish between which was applicable.

I didn't bother completing the application to be honest, as I suspect they think women with young children are unreliable and that's not really a culture I want to battle against.

Gaia81 Sat 20-Dec-14 13:16:41

Was it actually on the application form or was it part of the equality and diversity monitoring form?

Fairly typical for public sector to ask for age, sex, race, sexual orientation etc for monitoring so could see a pregnancy/maternity question being ok in that context.

elephantspoo Sat 20-Dec-14 13:45:01

Is this an issue because you are pregnant and wish to conceal the fact from a prospective employer? Or are you asking because you wish to stand on a point of principle?

NotSayingImBatman Sat 20-Dec-14 14:05:46

I'm on maternity leave, actually, elephant. I've no intention of returning to my current employer so am searching for an alternative, hence why it stood out to me.

Andrewofgg Sat 20-Dec-14 14:14:27

It it's public sector you can be certain that it was the monitoring form - public sector HR teams don't drop bollocks as big as that.

If you were the employer, OP, wouldn't you want to know when an applicant could join?

You don't have to fill in the monitoring forms. Thirty-odd years in the public sector and I have never declared my ethnic origins, religion if any, or sexual orientation; I own up to my gender, my name and beard being a bit of a giveaway, and my nominee for pension purposes and next of king being my DW probably suggests that I am married, but the rest of it is Not Their Business. Not even anonymously.

Tobyjugg Sat 20-Dec-14 14:14:37

If it is illegal, there's probably an exemption for public service jobs.

Andrewofgg Sat 20-Dec-14 14:16:14

No Toby the public sector enjoys no special exemptions.

ShadowKat Sat 20-Dec-14 14:22:39

if you want to know how soon an applicant can join, then why not just ask something along the lines of "how soon can you start?"

There's no need to specifically bring pregnancy / maternity leave into it if all you want to know is when they can join.

Andrewofgg Sat 20-Dec-14 14:37:06

Indeed ShadowKat which is why I think this may have been on the monitoring form. But if the answer to the question is at the end of a period of maternity leave which has months to run it is not unlawful for the employer to prefer a candidate who just has to give a usual notice period.

NotSayingImBatman Sat 20-Dec-14 14:47:59

Sorry, I realise I haven't typed what I thought I had in the OP, I blame teething DS2.

MOST of the roles I'm applying for a public sector, and don't make any personal references. This particular role was private sector, a large corporation.

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