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Mary Walker Reacts to ‘Fast-Tracked’ Recruitment in The Grocer

Tuesday 5th April 2022

Mary Walker, a partner at Gordons and employment law specialist, has been quoted in The Grocer reacting to the news that supermarkets may fast-track job applications for Ukrainian refugees.

A number of supermarkets have said they have thousands of jobs to offer Ukrainian refugees, with some introducing a fast-tracked recruitment process. However, there is concern about the potential legal challenges of this.

Mary said: “It’s great to see UK employers supporting Ukrainian refugees by highlighting job vacancies and committing to future employment. The actual recruitment process, however, will not be as straightforward as simply emailing the government.

“Although positive action in recruitment is permissible under the Equality Act, it has limits. The criteria necessary to allow positive action in recruitment do not fit these circumstances, that being the recruitment of refugees from one particular country.

“My advice would be that once contact is made through the scheme, employment should not be automatically given. The normal recruitment process of a fair and subjective selection should be followed focusing on skills and experience. Without such recruitment practices, potential employers open themselves to claims of discrimination, whether that be based on race or sex, as the majority of the current refugees are female.

“It isn’t just British unemployed that would be discriminated against by automatic employment, but people of all nationalities who might have applied for the work. Those roles should therefore also be open to external and internal candidates outside of the scheme.

“This is a pragmatic solution to the current recruitment crisis in the UK, but that doesn’t mean that scrutiny on selection based on skills should be abandoned.”

You can read Mary’s comment on The Grocer here.

For more advice on employment law, please contact Mary Walker or a member of the employment law team.