Hundreds of jobs advertisements on the government’s Universal Jobmatch website are in breach of equality laws and the problem extends far beyond the shameful age discrimination featured on the BBC yesterday.
Radio 4 reported on adverts on the website asking for ‘young’ or ‘recent’ graduates, warning this may be illegal under the Equality Act. It is not just older people however who face discrimination on the website that unemployed people are forced to use by Jobcentres to look for work. The shocking truth is that there seems to be no control over whether jobs advertised on the site meet equalities legislation.
Over 600 current job vacancies ask for a “handyman”, whilst one employer is looking for a “girl friday”. Another discriminates against same sex couples by asking for a “guy and girl Friday”. All of these advertisements are likely to be illegal. As Citizen’s Advice explain:
“With a few limited exceptions, it’s illegal to publish or broadcast an advert which discriminates because of sex, or which advertises discriminatory services. For example, it is illegal for an employer to advertise for a job using words like ‘craftsman’ or ‘handyman’, as this might give the impression that the job is only open to men.”
Significantly, it may not just be the employers posting these vacancies who are breaking the law. As providers of an “employment service”, the DWP themselves could be acting illegally for publishing these advertisements.
This doesn’t seem to bother anyone at the department, who have already brushed off the BBCs claims saying they don’t think phrases such as ‘recent graduate’ are discriminatory. This is despite the government’s own recruitment guidance to employers clearly stating: “Only use phrases like ‘recent graduate’ or ‘highly experienced’ when these are actual requirements of the job. This could discriminate against younger or older people who might not have had the opportunity to get certain qualifications.”
Not for the first time the DWP are treating laws that don’t suit them with contempt. Perhaps of equal concern is that so many employers don’t yet seem to have caught up with rules that were first introduced as part of the Sex Discrimination Act in 1975. But of course employers can do no wrong in the eyes of Iain Duncan Smith. That’s why he largely left them to their own devices as they cluttered up Universal Jobmatch with scam, spam and spoof vacancies.
Universal Jobmatch has been a fucking shambles ever since it was launched at huge cost back in 2011. Even the job adverts that actually manage to stay within the law are often duplicates, flaky self-employment ‘opportunities’ or employment agencies touting for CVs so they can spam people for the rest of their lives. With no safety information and clearly no checks on whether employers posting jobs to the site are genuine, then unemployed people are at real risk if they use Universal Jobmatch. But use it they must, on Jobcentre computers at least. Otherwise they face their benefits being sanctioned
If you are required to sign up to Universal Jobmatch you still do not have to tick the box giving the DWP access to your account and can untick the box giving them permission to send you emails. You should only be forced to use the website in Jobcentres. For tips on how to avoind being pressurised by Jobcentre busy-bodies visit the Refuted website. To save time when using the site you can also download Universal Automation.
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