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Employment

Equal opportunity law applies to full time, part time, casual, contract and voluntary work. It covers all stages of employment, from job advertisements, applications and offers of employment to promotions, training, transfers and dismissal.

Can I sack junior staff when they become eligible for senior wages?

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No. Dismissing a junior or reducing their hours as they get older and their hourly rate increases can lead to a complaint of age discrimination being made against you.

Can I terminate someone's employment if they get sick or injured?

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Not unless they are no longer able to perform the duties of the job.  Even then, you should confirm whether reasonable adjustments could be made to allow them to continue to perform their work.

I saw an advertisement for a job recently which said that preference would be given to people of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander origin. Isn't this discrimination? How can they get away with this?

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It is an offence under the Equal Opportunity Act to advertise employment or goods and services for sale in a discriminatory way, unless you have an exemption from the Equal Opportunity Tribunal or are using a special measure.  Advertisements like this usually indicate that a special need has been identified to provide employment or services for a particular disadvantaged group in the community.

Can I specify the number of years experience I want when advertising?

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You should describe the range of skills, experience and necessary qualifications you require, and use wording such as 'demonstrated experience in...' or 'proven experience in...', rather than the number of years experience.

Can I ask for a photo?

Yes, you can: but ask yourself if this is really a job where a person's appearance is relevant.  A photo can give information about a person's age, sex, race and sometimes disability.  Making decisions based upon any of these characteristics may leave you open to a complaint of discrimination.

Can I ask applicants if they are married or intending to have children?

Questions asked should be relevant to the job. Discrimination on the grounds of marital status, pregnancy and caring responsibilities is unlawful. Questions such as these may leave you open to complaints of discrimination.

Does my job placement agency/rehabilitation provider have to disclose my disability to a prospective employer?

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This is a matter for the applicant and the agency/provider to discuss to firstly understand if the employer does need to know and why and, secondly, to reach an agreement on the information to be provided to the employer.

Can I ask questions about a person's disability?

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Questions seeking information on whether the disability will affect their ability to do the job, and what, if any, additional support or work place adjustments are required, can be asked so you can obtain relevant information which allows you to judge the person’s actual skills and abilities.

Can I ask applicants to undergo a medical test before offering them the job?

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Yes, provided the tests are used only to assess the person's ability to perform the key tasks of the job. To do this, it helps to provide the medical examiner with an outline of the particular job requirements.

Should I have a job description for my employees?

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Employers should be clear about what they expect employees to do. It may be difficult for some small businesses to write a job description for each employee, but it is useful to be clear about their role and what you expect of them.