We are interviewing for a vacancy and an applicant has chosen to disclose that they have a birthmark that qualifies as a disability — how should we manage this?

Q

We are interviewing for a vacancy and an applicant has chosen to disclose that they have a birthmark that qualifies as a disability — how should we manage this?

A

Employers should remember that severe disfigurements automatically qualify as a disability under the Equality Act 2010. Although there is no further explanation on what qualifies as a “severe disfigurement”, large birthmarks are widely considered to fall into this definition, especially if they are located in a visible area. With this in mind, you must ensure that the applicant is not subjected to any detrimental treatment as result of their birthmark.

The Act states that there is no obligation for the individual to prove that a severe disfigurement has a long-term and substantial impact in order to raise a claim for disability discrimination. You should consider your approach when proceeding with the recruitment process. Naturally, it would be unlawful to reject the individual’s application due to any pre-conceived ideas relating to their appearance. Instead, applications should be reviewed fairly and decisions on who to invite to an interview should be based on a pre-determined checklist of skills and experience.

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