Friday, 8 April 2011

How much time is a Recruitment Process allowed to take?

Looking to get some side income to supplement the business, I thought to resurrect my old IT life and apply for several positions. It used to be that you put in your application, maybe get called in for an interview, and that was that. Then again, the last time I seriously job-hunted, only paper applications were accepted! Since then, I've noticed 'assessments' in recruiting become more common, more complex, and lengthier.
One position required a 20 minute phone interview, a 30 minute online test, and a half-day group assessment - just for a service desk role. Going through batteries of tests, most of which seem like 'work', for only a potential reward can be demoralising. Despite HR personnel enthusiastically promoting the exercise as something 'fun' or inherently 'worthwhile', being asked to commit time, for little return commitment can convey the message that a candidate's time is not valuable. Which brings me to my question:

Q: How do lengthy recruitment procedures sit with the law?

The good news: law in this area has simplified. As of the first pay period of 2011, sole traders, partnerships, other unincorporated entities and non-trading corporations in New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania became covered by a national system: the Fair Work Act.

The bad news: the only limits to a prospective employers recruitment process is that it must not discriminate or result in discrimination on the basis of a candidate's race, colour, sex, sexual preference, age, physical or mental disability, marital status, family or carer’s responsibilities, pregnancy, religion, political opinion, national extraction or social origin (see ss 195 and 351, Fair Work Act 2009). There is some overlap with State Equal Opportunity laws.

As an aside, assessment role-plays can only simulate work and should not include any real work. Trial work or probationary work must be paid, unless it is formal work experience organised by a learning institution.

The truth is that everyone's valuable time is taken up in recruitment - candidates and employers alike. Job-seekers can hope, if not reasonably assume, that the current cost of recruitment will impose natural limits on the selection processes of prospective employers.

Please note: this is not intended as legal advice to your specific problems. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact the author, or an independent lawyer.

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