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Know Your Legal Rights during the Hiring Process of a New Job in the UK

During your job search, you need to pay attention to many details in the contract. For instance, in the UK, understanding gardening leave conditions is crucial, as is checking the workers' compensation, or knowing how much exactly you will be paid. Apart from that, keep in mind that you have significant legal rights that need to be respected in the hiring process by any employer in the United Kingdom.

Some of the key areas here include the right to work in this country, data protection, discrimination, and criminal records. The recruiters need to keep your personal information safe, as well as understand and follow all their obligations and be up-to-date with any changes in this matter.

Minimum Hourly Wage

As a job applicant, you have the right to know what your salary will be from the start. Keep in mind that all employers need to obey the National Minimum Wage Act 1998, and they cannot go below a certain level of an hourly wage. What is more, in the case of hiring young people, the number of hours and their working conditions are also specified. If not for these laws, employers could be tempted to exploit employees who have no experience and are not sure what they should expect. Also, a company should not take advantage of the fact that someone may be desperate to get a job as soon as possible, and obey the legal rights concerning decent salaries at all times.


The Equality Act 2010 was introduced to reduce discrimination in any employment environment, including the hiring process. It prevents employers from treating job applicants with protected characteristics less favorably. They include all of the following:

  • marital status,

  • age,

  • sex,

  • gender reassignment,

  • sexual orientation,

  • disability,

  • pregnancy/maternity leave,

  • race, including nationality, skin color, ethnic or national origin.

Thanks to this act, an employer must stick to questions directly associated with the employment and cannot turn to private matters that could unfairly affect their hiring decision. For instance, they should not ask:

  • family-related questions, such as: 'Are you expecting a baby?', 'Do you want to have children in the future?' or 'Are you married?'

  • age-related questions, for example: 'When did you finish your studies?' or 'What year were you born in?' - note that in some businesses, an employer has the right to make sure that a job applicant is an adult and ask for an ID, such as selling alcohol or sex toys.

  • sexual orientation/gender identity questions, for example: 'Are you gay?', 'Do you plan to have a sex reassignment surgery?', or 'Are you a man?'

  • religion-citizenship related questions, such as 'Do you have British citizenship?' or 'What is your religion?'

You may wonder if it is okay to ask about health issues in the hiring process - an employer may touch upon this subject only if your potential job creates danger for people with certain diseases, disorders, or disabilities. If they ask about something unrelated to the particular employment conditions, you should not feel obliged to answer.

Criminal History

According to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, it is not legal for employers to refuse employment to someone because of their past convictions, unless there is a particular need to check someone's criminal history for a job. The Act mentions working in healthcare or with children - in these cases, an employee has the legal right to check that a potential employee is cleared to do the work in the hiring process. These checks are now conducted by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS). Only an individual for whom the assessment is being carried out can get the DBS certificate, so an employer who needs to make sure that the candidate's criminal records are clear must ask them to show their DBS certificate.

Data Protection

Following the General Data Protection Regulation from 2016, an employer gathering personal information about job applicants (such as a name, an email address, or a telephone number) must provide them with an information notice, also referred to as a fair processing notice or a privacy notice. It has to be done, regardless of whether employers do it by themselves or with the help of a third party, such as a hiring agency. It needs to include all the essential information, with the most significant one being the reasons why the data needs to be processed.

Apart from that, employers must inform about the legal bases for processing and state how long the information will be kept in their databases. Such an information notice should be published on the company's website, but its copy or link to it also needs to be sent to every job applicant separately. If the recruitment process takes place on a third-party portal, the job offer's details must include a link to the information notice as well.


Everyone looking for a new job should be aware of what they have the right to expect or even demand from an employer. They need to be honest with you about the hourly wage and the number of working hours because nobody wants to be exploited or cheated. What is more, keep in mind that during an interview, only questions directly related to particular employment specifics should be asked - nobody has the right to ask about your marital status, sexual orientation, national origin, or pregnancy. Also, the employer must follow all the strict laws associated with data protection and criminal records.

If you think that you have been mistreated during an interview, or you know, or at least suspect that some of your laws might have been violated, do not hesitate to seek professional legal advice. Good luck with your new employment!

Paulina Dolatowska

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