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Discrimination in recruitment

Your freedom to hire anyone you want is restricted by the Discrimination Act. The Parental Leave Act also has a specific ban on discrimination against people on parental leave.

The regulation is about the discrimination factors gender, gender identity or expression, ethnicity, religion or other belief, sexual orientation, disability and age. Negative special treatment based on other factors or circumstances is not covered by discrimination legislation. The Discrimination Act prohibits both direct and indirect discrimination.

How have others been treated?

Discrimination does not have to be intentional. It is enough that you cannot explain your actions. In order for it to be a question of direct discrimination, there must also be someone to compare it to. How have others who are not in the same protected group been treated? A comparator can also be fictitious, for example if there is only one applicant.

It is therefore forbidden to discriminate against a job applicant because of:

  • gender
  • gender identity
  • ethnicity
  • disability
  • sexual orientation
  • religion or other belief
  • age

An example of a discriminatory action is not inviting a person to a job interview because their name suggests that they have an ethnic background other than Swedish. All measures, which mean that someone is disadvantaged in a recruitment process or other work management, are covered by the prohibition of discrimination.

Think one step further

A well-balanced team can be both developmental and profitable for your business. As an employer, you must actively promote equality and diversity when recruiting new staff. The rules are there to ensure that all people are given equal rights and opportunities in working life (equal treatment).

Indirect discrimination

You need to be careful that any requirements made in the recruitment process do not indirectly disadvantage a protected group. For example, if you impose requirement to pass a language test or wear certain clothing at work, this can be indirectly disadvantageous to a protected group (e.g. people with a foreign background or with certain religious beliefs). A "legitimate objective" must exist to justify such demands in connection with recruitment. In addition, the application of these requirements must be both appropriate and necessary to achieve the objective.

Part-time and seasonal workers

As an employer, you must not discriminate against a part-time or temporary (fixed-term) worker by applying less favourable pay or other employment conditions.

Parental leave

Under the Parental Leave Act, an employer may not discriminate against a jobseeker or employee on the grounds of parental leave, for example, in employment decisions, promotion decisions or in pay or other terms of employment.

Written information

A job applicant who feels discriminated against has the right to receive written information from the employer about the education, work experience and other qualifications of the person who got the job. If such a request is made, it is a good idea to state the reasons for the employment decision in as much detail as possible.

Risk of damages

If you violate the Discrimination Act, you may be liable to pay so-called discrimination compensation (in case of violation of the Discrimination Act) and damages in case of violation of other discrimination rules. A person who feels discriminated against in connection with recruitment can report the discrimination to the trade union or the Equality Ombudsman. The case can then be heard by the Labour Court.

If a job applicant has been discriminated against in the recruitment process, they cannot get a job with the help of the Discrimination Act. If the Labour Court finds that a job applicant has been discriminated against, the employer must pay general damages for the violation suffered by the discriminated person.

Discrimination is always prohibited

Discrimination rules apply to all actions taken by an employer against a job applicant or employee, not just recruitment.

The law is also binding, which means that the rules cannot be negotiated away in collective agreements or other contracts.

Prevent discrimination

All employers must work towards equal rights and opportunities in working life, regardless of gender, gender identity, ethnicity, religion or other belief, disability, sexual orientation and age.

Active measures at the Equality Ombudsman

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