The A-Z Pre-Employment Guide for employers & employees



Q. Can an employer specify physical characteristics such as height, weight or strength as being essential for the job?

A. Yes, provided the physical characteristics are essential for performing the job satisfactorily or for meeting safety requirements.

For example, a bus company might specify that drivers have to weigh less than 100kg because the driver’s seat is not capable of carrying a weight of more than 100kg. See also: Overweight/obesity

The Act also prohibits indirect discrimination. Indirect discrimination occurs when an apparently neutral job condition or requirement has the effect of excluding some job applicants on one of the grounds prohibited by the Act.

For example, a minimum-height requirement is likely to have more effect on women than on men and, as well, may have more effect on men from some ethnic groups than from others. Therefore, physical characteristics may only be specified if there is a genuine reason for doing so.

A complaint of indirect discrimination may be defended on the grounds of “good reason”. This means there are objectively sound reasons for the practice that are unrelated to any prohibited form of discrimination.


Q. Is an employer required to have a gender and/or ethnicity balance on an interview panel?

A. Nothing in the Act requires that.

However, it is desirable for medium to large size firms to have a gender and/or ethnicity balance on interview panels to ensure a job applicant’s gender or ethnicity is not overlooked. Having this balance is likely to reduce the effects of stereotypes.

Q. Can I take a support person to my job interview?

A. Usually you can. However, the Act does not mention taking a support person to a job interview.

Some employers allow or encourage applicants to take in a support person. If you want to bring a support person to the interview you should tell the employer before the interview.

See also: Behaviour-based questions