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Recruitment compliance: all you need to know in 2023

Discover how to tackle the Great Resignation with an updated, compliant recruiting process. Learn about essential laws relevant to your location, best practices for job descriptions and interviews, and safeguarding candidate data. Position yourself as an employer of choice in a competitive market.

Irina Maltseva

Irina Maltseva

recruitment compliance

We live in the age of the Great Resignation.

40% of the global workforce are considering leaving their current employer within the next year, and it’s predicted that by 2030, due to a lack of skilled workers, more than 85 million jobs could go unfilled. What’s more, 54% of job applicants won’t complete a job application if they feel the recruiting process isn’t recruitment-compliant.

What does this mean for recruiters?

It means finding and hiring the right talent is becoming harder by the day. New recruitment compliance laws also mean businesses face potentially crippling financial and branding implications should they fail to stay compliant.

Here, we discuss recruitment compliance in 2023, so you can ensure your business stays compliant, and attracts the top talent in your industry while avoiding any compliance and discrimination pitfalls.

What is recruitment compliance?

Recruitment compliance ensures organizations follow legal and ethical standards when hiring new employees.

Being compliant means making sure your organization abides by laws and regulations related to fair and nondiscriminatory hiring practices, ensuring no job applicant or employee experiences discrimination against nationality, ethnicity, gender, age, religion, language, or past salary range during the hiring process.

Being recruitment-compliant helps organizations make sure they’re not willingly or unwillingly offending a candidate or violating their rights in any way during the entire hiring process.

In the United States, two main governing bodies regulate recruitment compliance, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP). If your organization is based in Europe, your organization must comply with the labor laws as set out by the European Union’s recruitment compliance guidelines.

As a recruiter, it’s important to understand and follow these guidelines to ensure that your organization hires the best-qualified candidates while avoiding legal and reputational risks.

Why recruitment compliance is important in 2023

Recruitment compliance is more important than ever in 2023. More than safeguarding your business against lawsuits and fines, recruitment compliance ensures all people from all backgrounds have equal opportunity to apply for a range of job roles.

Specifically, recruitment compliance is important in 2023 for several reasons:

1. Legal and regulatory requirements

Laws and regulations related to recruitment and hiring practices continue to evolve, and organizations must comply with them to avoid legal liability, fines, and other penalties.

2. Preventing discrimination

Recruitment compliance helps to prevent discrimination in hiring practices based on factors such as race, gender, age, and religion. This ensures that job opportunities are accessible to all qualified candidates, promoting diversity and inclusivity in the workplace.

3. Protecting data privacy

Recruitment compliance also helps to protect the privacy of job applicants’ personal and sensitive information, including their resumes, job applications, and other data collected during the recruitment process.

4. Building a positive reputation

Compliance with recruitment regulations and ethical hiring practices can enhance an organization’s reputation as an employer of choice, attracting top talent and improving employee retention.

5. Ensuring the best-qualified candidates are hired

Compliance with recruitment regulations helps to ensure that organizations hire the most qualified candidates for the job, promoting a more skilled and productive workforce.

Key recruitment compliance laws and best practices

Specific recruitment laws vary according to country and state.

1. United States

In the United States, some of the more prominent laws to be mindful of when designing and executing your hiring process include:

Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) laws

These laws prohibit discrimination in hiring based on characteristics such as race, gender, age, religion, national origin, and disability.

Specific EEO laws in the US include Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.

If an organization is found to be in violation of any of these laws, they are liable to significant fines and legal action.

Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)

The FCRA regulates the collection and use of consumer credit information in employment decisions, including background checks and credit monitoring.

These laws are part of data protection during the hiring process and are essential to keeping candidates data safe during the hiring process.

Immigration and Nationality Act (INA)

The INA prohibits discrimination in hiring based on an individual’s national origin or citizenship status. Employers must also verify an employee’s eligibility to work in the United States using the Form I-9.

California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA)

The CCPA is designed to protect the personal and professional data of candidates and employees in the United States. The CPRA (California Privacy Rights Act) is a new modification of the CCPA and must be adhered to as well.

Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

The FMLA requires covered employers to provide eligible employees with unpaid leave for certain family and medical reasons.

These laws are particularly relevant to new parents, and protect a new parent’s right to either unpaid or paid leave during the first several months of having a new infant in the family.

Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA)

The OSHA requires employers to provide a safe and healthy work environment for employees, including during the recruitment and hiring process.

National Labor Relations Act (NLRA)

The NLRA protects employees’ rights to engage in collective bargaining and other concerted activities, including the right to discuss wages, benefits, and working conditions. More than compliance, this act also protects free speech in and around the workplace.

2. Europe and the United Kingdom

For organizations based in Europe and the United Kingdom, different laws but with similar goals exist to protect candidates during the hiring process. This especially includes:

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

The GDPR is a data privacy regulation that applies to all organizations that process personal data of individuals in the European Union, including job applicants.

How to stay compliant while recruiting

Organizations and recruiters must ensure they are familiar with each of these laws.

However, knowing how to implement each of these laws at each stage of the recruitment process is the next step towards being recruitment-compliant in 2023.

Compliant job description

The job description is one of the first, if not the first, interactions potential candidates have with your organization. It’s also widely available and open for any person to see – which means it absolutely must follow recruitment compliance guidelines.

When writing your job description, make sure you:

1. Use clear and concise language

Use simple, straightforward language to describe the position and its requirements. Avoid using overly technical terms or jargon that some candidates may find confusing.

2. Use inclusive language

Use gender-neutral language to avoid excluding any potential candidates. Any terms that may be considered discriminatory, such as age limits or preference for certain ethnic groups, must never be used.

For example, “the candidate”, is an ideal way to refer to your audience when using inclusive language in a job description.

3. Focus on essential job duties

Focus on the essential duties and responsibilities of the job, and avoid including non-essential tasks or qualifications that may be discriminatory. Ensure that the job requirements are necessary for the position.

4. Avoid discriminatory language

Avoid using language that could be seen as discriminatory, such as gender-specific language or language that implies a preference for a certain age range.

5. Include necessary qualifications

Clearly state the qualifications, certifications and licenses required for the job, such as education and experience. By ensuring these qualifications are totally necessary for the particular job role will ensure there is no discrimination.

6. Indicate any physical requirements

If the job requires physical abilities, such as lifting or standing for extended periods, clearly state these requirements in the job description.

7. Provide a reasonable accommodation statement

Include a statement indicating that your organization will provide reasonable accommodations to qualified individuals with disabilities who require assistance during the hiring process. This might include stating your building is wheel-chair accessible, or that you can and are willing to accommodate any other needs for qualified candidates to interview for your specific job role.

Related: Use one of these 1000+ job description templates to ensure recruitment compliance.

Compliant interview process

After ensuring a recruitment-compliant job description, organizations must consider their interview process. This is the time when candidates come face-to-face with your organization, and is your opportunity to prove your organization is an inclusive, modern, desirable place to work.

You can choose from this curated list of interview questions to help keep your interview process fair and compliant.

1. Use structured interview questions

Develop a list of structured interview questions that are relevant to the job and avoid personal questions. Using structured questions will ensure that all candidates are asked the same questions, providing consistency throughout your interview and selection process.

2. Avoid discriminatory questions

Do not ask questions that could be considered discriminatory, such as questions about an applicant’s age, race, religion, gender, marital status, or disability. Focus on skill and job-related questions only.

3. Provide accommodations

As per the job posting, if an applicant has a disability and requires accommodation during the interview process, provide it if it is reasonable and does not cause undue hardship to the organization.

If a candidate can’t be present at the onsite interview, offer one of the different ways of communication to organize it: make a call through Zoom, Google Meet, or any other hosted phone system.

4. Document the interview process

Keep records of your interview process, including notes on each candidate’s answers to interview questions, and the reasons for selecting or rejecting a candidate. Documenting the process will help you demonstrate that you’ve followed a fair and non-discriminatory selection process.

5. Maintain confidentiality

Ensure that all interview records and notes are kept confidential and only accessible to those involved in the hiring process.

6. Provide feedback

Provide feedback to all applicants, including those who were not selected. Give clear and honest feedback on the reasons for the decision while avoiding discriminatory language.

Compliant job offers, contracts, and communication

Once you’ve advertised your job and interviewed candidates, it’s time to make your offers to selected applicants. Again, this stage in the hiring process must be professional, compliant, and non-discriminatory.

There are similarities between this final stage and finding/interviewing candidates, but continuity through your entire recruitment process is essential to ensure compliance.

1. Ensure compliance with employment laws

Ensure that all job offers and contracts comply with relevant employment laws, including minimum wage, working hours, overtime pay, and other legal requirements. Always remember to use inclusive language in all communications with potential candidates.

2. Clearly state job responsibilities and expectations

Clearly state the job responsibilities and expectations in the job offer and employment contract, including the terms of employment, employee compensation, benefits, and any other relevant information.

3. Include a termination clause

Include a termination clause in the employment contract that outlines the circumstances under which the employment can be terminated.

If you follow these recruitment-compliant best practices during the hiring process, and double-check them against compliance laws, you’ll be well on your way to creating an inclusive, modern, fair and desirable hiring and working process.

How to protect candidate data

One recruitment compliance element we’ve touched on several times thus far is candidate data protection. With more than 45% of U.S. companies having experienced data breaches, knowing how to protect your candidate data is essential to creating a safe recruitment process.

Not only will a data breach cost your organization time and money and put candidate’s at risk of identity theft and other hazards, but the reputational damage done if a candidate’s sensitive information is leaked can be crippling. Follow these tips to ensure data-handling best practices.

1. Secure data storage

Use secure methods to store candidate data, such as password-protected databases or encrypted files. Limit access to this data to authorized personnel only.

Additionally, consider implementing secure methods to transfer files remotely, such as encrypted file transfer protocols, to protect candidate data during the recruitment process.

2. Use secure communication channels

Use secure communication channels, such as encrypted emails or messaging systems, to communicate with job applicants and third-party service providers.

3. Comply with CCPA and GDPR

If your organization processes personal data of individuals in the US or EU, make sure you comply with the CCPA or GDPR. This includes obtaining explicit consent from job applicants to process their data, providing access to this data, and complying with other CCPA and GDPR requirements.

4. Conduct background checks legally

Conduct background checks in compliance with relevant laws and regulations, such as the FCRA in the United States. Ensure that applicants are notified of any background checks, and that they have the opportunity to dispute any inaccurate information.

5. Train employees

Train employees on data protection policies and procedures, and ensure that they understand the importance of protecting candidate data throughout the recruitment process.

6. Monitor data breaches

Monitor for data breaches and implement procedures to address them promptly. This includes notifying job applicants and relevant authorities of any data breaches that occur.

7. Integrate data carefully

Integrate candidate data into other systems carefully, ensuring that the data is protected at all times. This includes limiting access to this data to authorized personnel only.

Follow the best practices and your candidates and organization will be much closer to protecting their data.

The takeaway: recruitment compliance in 2023

The current state of the global market means job-seekers have the power. As a recruiter in such an environment, offering a desirable, updated recruitment process is essential to attracting and retaining top-talent.

By following the guidelines in this article, organizations will remain compliant through each stage of their hiring process.

Irina Maltseva is a Growth Lead at Aura and a Founder at ONSAAS. For the last seven years, she has been helping SaaS companies to grow their revenue with inbound marketing. At her previous company, Hunter, Irina helped 3M marketers to build business connections that matter. Now, at Aura, Irina is working on her mission to create a safer internet for everyone. To get in touch, follow her on LinkedIn.

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