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Members' Area: Recruitment

Recruiting a new employee

Once it has been established that there is a need to recruit externally, thought must be given to:

  • The job itself. It is important to have a clear understanding of the role. What the person will be required to do, what skills they need to do it. Drawing up a job specification will help with this.
  • Finding your applicants. There are pros and cons for all of the methods of recruiting, but some options are advertising in local press, optical journals (eg Dispensing Optics), online, using an employment agency or even contacting the local Job Centre. However if you advertise, it is important to bear in mind the requirements of equal opportunities legislation.
  • Application formOpen

    To ensure that essential information is captured in a standard format, it is recommended that applicants should be required to complete an application form. The application form used should only ask for information which is relevant to the recruitment decision. If, at a later stage in the recruitment process, you intend to check the details supplied by the applicant, this should be stated on the application form. The form should only request Information on the applicant’s criminal record if it is relevant to the job.

    For a suitable form, please see Employment application form.

    The application form includes a statement that any deliberate dishonesty on the part of the applicant will render the application and any subsequent employment contract invalid. This is to enable an employer who discovers an untruth to terminate the individual’s employment without notice, following an appropriate investigation and disciplinary interview, held in accordance with the discipline procedure.

    You may want to consider some form of equal opportunities monitoring at the stage. You should contact ABDO HR Service for details of this.

  • Contract of employmentOpen

    The best way to confirm an offer of employment is to send the prospective employee two signed copies of the contract of employment, which contain all the terms and conditions of employment. One copy is for the prospective employee to sign and keep, the other is for him/her to sign and return to you, to indicate acceptance. Use the following link for an appropriate draft Contract of employment.

    It is common practice for a contract of employment to include references to policies and procedures which are set out in full in a staff handbook. If a contract of employment refers to a staff handbook, it may be construed that the entire contents of the staff handbook forms part of the contract of employment. This may not always be the employer’s intention. It is therefore important that the staff handbook makes it clear which items form part of the contract of employment and which do not. It is also important that that the staff handbook does not contain any statements which conflict with the contract of employment. For further guidance on the use of staff handbooks, please contact ABDO HR Service.

    The contracts should be sent with a covering letter which makes it clear that the offer of employment is subject to:

    • References which are satisfactory to the employer
    • Documentary evidence of formal qualifications
    • The absence of any contractual restrictions which would prevent the prospective employee from accepting the offer and starting work on the date agreed
    • Documentary evidence of the right to live and work in the UK.

    Depending on the nature of the job, you may also wish to make the offer subject to a satisfactory medical examination and/or the possession of a driving licence

    For a suitable covering letter, please see Offer letter.

  • Criminal recordsOpen

    Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS), previously known as CRB checks, maybe required for some employees.

    ABDO is in partnership with a company called Complete Background Screening who can provide basic and enhanced checks.

    Please contact the ABDO Membership Services for details of this service.

  • Entitlement to work in the UKOpen

    It is an offence to employ someone who does not have the right to live and work in the UK. The maximum fine on conviction is £20,000.

    In order to establish a defence, employers must check and make a copy of certain original documents in respect of every new employee, before they begin their employment. Use the list of documents which provide evidence of the right to work in the UK.

    You can be sent to jail for up to two years and receive and unlimited fine, if you ‘knowingly employ’ an illegal worker.

    Where the potential employee is unable to produce a ‘secure’ document from this list contact ABDO HR Service for further guidance.

    To avoid racial discrimination you should ask all new employees to provide proof of right to work in the UK, not just those who look or sound foreign.

  • Job specificationOpen

    A job title alone gives us very limited information about the job. A job specification will provide:

    • Information about the job: responsibilities, function and main duties
    • Information about the job holder: the experience, qualifications and skills needed to do the job

    The job holder’s experience, qualifications and skills are usually divided into two categories: essential and desirable. Essential requirements are those that the person must have to be suitable. Desirable requirements are those which the applicant may have in addition to make them appear potentially first rate.

    It is important not to include any requirements in the job specification which might be discriminatory. A job specification drawn up using objective, non-discriminatory criteria provides employers with a practical and defensible method for selecting or eliminating candidates at both the short-listing and interview stages of the recruitment procedure.

    It is strongly recommended that employers use job specifications for every recruitment and selection exercise. For a suitable form, please see Job specification form

  • Offering the jobOpen

    It is a legal requirement that employees are given a written statement of their principal terms and conditions within the first two months of their employment. This may be in the form of a written contract of employment, provided all of the required particulars are included in the contract.

  • Recruitment recordsOpen

    Recruitment records should not be retained for any longer than is necessary. All personal information obtained during the recruitment process should be stored securely until it is destroyed. Applicants who feel they have been discriminated against in the recruitment process have three months in which to bring a claim before an employment tribunal. In order to be able to defend such a claim, it is wise to retain recruitment records for a minimum of three months.

  • ReferencesOpen

    It is always wise to take up references on a prospective employee but make sure that you have the applicant’s authority before you contact the referees he/she has nominated. Use a standard reference request form to ensure that the reference is in writing and the person providing the reference covers all the information you require. Ask the referee to confirm whether or not the reference is given in confidence. For a suitable reference request form and covering letter, please see Letter requesting reference and Reference request form.

    For guidance on giving references, please contact ABDO HR Service.

  • Selecting the right personOpen

    The first phase in the selection process is to sift through the applications, checking each one against the requirements of the job specification, so that the unsuitable applicants can be informed and the suitable applicants invited for interview. This process is known as shortlisting.

  • The interviewOpen

    There is no one correct method of interviewing. However, successful interviewers have a number of things in common. They are able to:

    • Put applicants at their ease and encourage them to talk freely
    • Gather the maximum amount of information in a limited time
    • Interpret the information accurately and evaluate it in relation to the future
    • Convey to the applicant an accurate impression of the job and the company

    You should not ask questions which may be construed as discriminatory, such as:

    • When are you thinking of retiring?
    • Are you planning a family?

    Use the following link for a Step by step guide to conducting a recruitment interview.

  • The shortlistOpen

    The shortlist should be drawn up objectively, matching the criteria of the job specification to the experience, qualifications and skills of each applicant. Employers must guard against making general assumptions about applicants, based on gender, race, disability, sexual orientation or religion rather than the ability of the individual applicant to do the job. Applicants who are not to be invited for interview should be informed promptly and courteously of the result of their application. For a suitable letter, please see Letter to unsuccessful applicant (not invited to interview).

    Letters to applicants inviting them for interview should be courteous and informative. As well as stating the date, time and location of the interview, they should also contain details of any assessment test or other selection procedure which is to be used. Applicants should also be advised that they may request any necessary adjustment to enable them to participate in the selection process. A deaf person, for example, may need a sign interpreter at an interview. For a suitable letter of invitation, please see Letter of invitation to interview.

  • Unsuccessful applicantsOpen

    Unsuccessful applicants should receive a prompt and courteous letter. A polite and gentle let down will enhance your reputation as an employer.

    Be prepared to five feedback, if requested.

    For a suitable letter, please see Letter to unsuccessful applicant (following interview).

  • VerificationOpen

    Employers are allowed to make reasonable efforts to check the accuracy of the information given by the applicant, provided the applicant is told what the verification process will be. In some cases, information or documents may required from a third party.

    For example, an applicant may claim to have certain educational or professional qualifications but be unable to produce the certificates he/she has been awarded. The employer may then wish to approach the relevant awarding body for confirmation. In a situation such as this, the applicant must be asked for his/her signed consent before the request to the third party is made. If any discrepancies are revealed as a result of these enquiries, it should not automatically be assumed that the awarding body (or any other third party) is correct and the applicant has been untruthful. Give the applicant the opportunity to make representations.

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