01 Mar 2016

Equality laws consign paperboys and waitresses to history

Equality laws consign paperboys and waitresses to history


Advertising for a waitress or a paperboy could now land businesses in hot water after new guidance was published barring employers from trying to hire someone based on their sex, age or nationality.

To avoid breaking the law, the EHRC has called on employers to use gender-neutral terms, such as 'bartender' instead of barman or barmaid for example.

It further warns that adverts that imply a particular age group, such as those that might call for someone who is 'mature' or a 'recent graduate', would breach the regulations.

Other job titles set to disappear under the rules include handyman, seamstress and Saturday boy.


In a little over a year, the Commission has received more than a hundred complaints that adverts were discriminatory. These included:

  • Sex or age discrimination by seeking 'young' or female workers, where this was not a necessary requirement for the job. This included an advert for a ‘Saturday boy' to work in a garage, and a bar looking for a 'part-time shot girl'.
  • Age discrimination by a recruitment agency stating that those over 45s need not apply, and by a club advertising salsa classes 'not suitable for people over 60' in a local paper.
  • Race discrimination by recruitment agencies advertising solely in foreign languages - such as vacancies for taxi drivers only advertised in Polish; or conversely restricting a general warehouse position to UK passport-holders.
  • Sexual orientation discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation when casting agencies were asked to supply only homosexual applicants to work as extras in a television programme featuring a Gay Pride story. In reality these roles should have been open to all.

Rebecca Hilsenrath, the chief executive of the EHRC, said the guidance would help ensure that nobody is "unfairly barred from job opportunities".

"This clear and brief guidance answers the questions people often ask us and should help keep everybody on the right side of the law," she said.

"It will also help ensure no-one is unfairly barred from job opportunities or from accessing services because of who they are.

"Tackling discrimination and ending confusion will not just help prevent businesses breaking the law – it will create more opportunities to unlock talent and help drive Britain's economic growth."

However, the Tax Payers' Alliance has described the guidance as a "meaningless" waste of money.

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