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Equal opportunity in staff selection

Guidelines for ensuring equal employment opportunity in recruitment and selection

Equal Opportunity Legislation and Policy

Discrimination in the employment of staff, including recruitment and selection, is unlawful under state and federal legislation on a range of grounds. The legislation provides for investigating and redressing complaints of discrimination.

In recognition of the spirit and intent of the legislation, Monash University's Equal Opportunity Policy commits the University to eliminating from its structures and practices any source of direct or indirect discrimination on the grounds of:

  • race, colour, national or ethnic origin or nationality;
  • sex or gender, lawful sexual activity, marital status, sexual orientation, pregnancy or potential pregnancy, breastfeeding or status as a parent or a carer;
  • religious or political belief or activity or industrial activity;
  • age, physical features, disability (past, present or imputed) or medical record;
  • employment activity (meaning a request for information about or expression of concern about the provision of employment entitlements);
  • personal association with a person who is identified by reference to any of the above listed attributes; and
  • any other attribute protected under anti-discrimination law.

The protected attributes, outlined above, should not be taken into account in making decisions during the recruitment and selection process. The Victorian Equal Opportunity Act (2010)) (Section 107) makes it unlawful to request information that could be used to form the basis of discrimination against another person.

The University's Social Inclusion Strategy includes establishing programs to provide equal opportunity in employment for Indigenous Australians, people with disabilities and women.

Recruitment

The University aims to attract women applicants to senior roles and positions in non-traditional areas. It is recommended that a targeted search be conducted for suitable applicants particularly for positions where females comprise less than 50% of staff at the level of the position.

The University is committed to the positive inclusion of Indigenous Australians in the life of the University, and seeks to provide employment and career opportunities through the implementation of an Indigenous employment strategy.

Selection Committee Membership

Both sexes must be represented on the selection committee. Committees should aim for equitable representation of both sexes as far as practicable with a minimum of one third each.

Where an Indigenous candidate is being considered for a position, the selection panel will include a staff member from the Indigenous Engagement Unit, or their nominee.

Guidelines for the Interview Process

Equal employment opportunity for all candidates will be supported if participants in the selection process observe the following principles:

  • Members agree on the questions asked of candidates to evaluate their suitability.
  • Information about the position is offered in the same way to all applicants.
  • The same opening questions are asked of all candidates and candidates are all questioned in relation to each of the selection criteria. Information which could be used to discriminate is not requested. (See below)
  • No assumptions are made about the working patterns or personal characteristics of individuals on the basis of their membership of a particular sex, race or other group.

Grounds of Discrimination

All questions during the interview process should be directed to assessing the applicants' ability to perform the inherent requirements of the position.

Sex / marital status

Inquiries into family circumstances, relationships, spouse or partner's situation, carer status, child-bearing plans or child care arrangements are not acceptable. Where appropriate and according to the duties and responsibilities of the advertised position, each applicant may be asked if he or she is willing and able to travel, to work overtime, to work shifts or during the weekend. Applicants may be asked if they will be available to start work at a specific date or to work during a specific time period.

Status as a parent or carer

The university has a positive obligation to ensure that it provides equal employment opportunities to applicants with parental or carer responsibilities. This requires appropriate consideration of all requests for flexibility to accommodate an applicant's carer responsibilities.

Applicants who disclose that they are parents or carers should be informed that requests for flexibility to accommodate parental or carer obligations will be assessed on a case by case basis and accommodated where reasonably possible.

Other than as outlined above inquiries about the status of an applicant as a parent or carer are not appropriate.

Pregnancy

No questions should be asked about a present or intended pregnancy. However, applicants for positions involving work which may harm the foetus should be informed of this risk at the interview. Advice on the nature and degree of risk may be sought from Occupational Health, Safety. Applicants may be asked about their availability for work at specific times, as required by the job.

Nationality / Race

No inquiries relating to national or ethnic origin may be made. However, the selection committee may ask and seek confirmation that the applicant is legally entitled to work in Australia. Fluency in the English language may be taken into account only insofar as it is an inherent requirement in order to carry out the duties of a particular job. If fluency in a language other than English is required, this should be included in the information provided to applications and questions at interview should only be directed to the applicant's fluency in the language, not their nationality or race.

Impairment / Disability

No questions should be asked on these matters.

If applicants disclose an impairment or disability they should be informed that requests for workplace accommodations will be assessed on a case by case basis and provided where reasonably possible.

Further advice can be sought from the Disability Liaison Unit.

Age / physical features

Selection committees should not draw inferences about an applicant's personal characteristics (e.g. energy levels, ability to withstand stress) on the basis of age or physical features.

Religious / political conviction /industrial activity

No questions should be asked on these matters.

Employment activity

Selection committees should not draw negative inferences about an applicant's commitment or workplace values based on any inquiries made about the provision of employment entitlements.

Queries

Advice on the application of these guidelines in particular instances may be sought from the Equity and Diversity Centre.