Are your job ads breaching the Human Rights Act?

by Chloe Taylor04 Nov 2014
Employers could be unknowingly breaching the Age Discrimination Act with their recruitment campaigns.

Terms which are commonly used in job advertisements could be culpable for such breaches, including “young”, “recent graduate,” and “new graduate”.

Although not all of these terms explicitly refer to young people, as statistically candidates fresh from university are likely to be aged 24 or younger in Australia.

Countless advertisements online specify that available jobs are for “recent graduates” with some even reserving their vacancies for “young” individuals.

HC spoke to Philip Brewin, director at Nevett Ford, about the use of this terminology.

“Under our Age Discrimination act it is certainly unlawful to treat a person less favourably because of age,” he said. “If someone applied and didn’t get the job they would be able to complain – the philosophy behind age discrimination is not to treat someone in a predetermined way because of their age. One should not use the word young – it’s very dangerous in my view.”

Brewin said that there are circumstances in which recruiters do use terms such as “young” and “enthusiastic” to advertise vacancies, while some employers hint that older candidates will not be successful without explicitly using the word “young”.  

“Again it would be arguable that it is discrimination in these situations, but it is not as clear cut,” Brewin told HC. “It’s best to avoid any risk.”

He said that advertising for “fresh thinking” candidates or “new graduates” is also risky, and could discriminate against graduates who are equally qualified despite not being fresh out of university.

The issue arose internationally following a report in the UK from the BBC. 


  • by Layla 4/11/2014 12:41:37 PM

    Age discrimination is rife in the HR field. It is scary to think the HR professionals are doing the recruiting and yet they discriminate against one of their own. I was once even told by a recuitment agency that someone in their 40's would be better off looking to change careers as HR is really a younger field. Believe it or not that came from a very reputable agency.
    At a time when the government is looking to keep people in the workforce longer it is abhorrent to think we would do this to another human being. Have we taken the Human out of Human Resources?

  • by Mark 4/11/2014 1:06:16 PM

    100% agree with you Layla. It is disgusting that the very custodians of employment legislation are the biggest transgressors who blatantly abuse their positions to prejudice mature aged workers - the "Human" went out of HR a long time ago - good luck finding meaningful work in your profession if you are over 50!! What a joke!

  • by Rob 4/11/2014 5:27:13 PM

    I was denied a job today with a major electrical manufacturer. Following the interview, the agent rang me and said they decided not to use me because of my age. I was shocked and told the agent that was not allowed under the law. I was then told well the real reason was because my experience wasn't current, (whatever that is supposed to mean) and that my age was secondary. I am only 53! I can't get work and I am about to lose my house....I have been in contact with the Australian human rights board, but I don't believe I will get any help there...I would shoot myself, but I don't have life insurance...I've never been on the dole I have to...I feel so humiliated.

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