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Recruitment and designated roles

Applying for a new job is daunting enough. It should not be made harder because a workplace has discriminatory hiring practices. Employers have a legal responsibility to avoid discrimination when recruiting workers. Positions should be filled by those who are best suited for the job regardless of their background and personal characteristics. Sometimes employers can take positive steps to help disadvantaged groups by creating designated roles.

Avoiding discrimination in recruitment

Employers have a legal obligation to ensure that each stage of the hiring process is non-discriminatory. The hiring process includes:

  • advertising the position
  • conducting interviews and pre-employment tests 
  • selecting the preferred candidate.

The application process should be open and accessible, and not present barriers that could discourage people from applying. Employers may also need to consider making reasonable adjustments to the workplace to support a person with a disability.

What does a non-discriminatory hiring process look like?

Special measures and designated roles

Employers can take positive steps to help disadvantaged groups. These are called ‘special measures’. The Equal Opportunity Act 2010 makes it clear that special measures are allowed and are not discrimination. Read more about special measures.

Designated roles

Designated roles are a type of special measure. A designated role is where an employer specifies that a role is to be given to a person with a particular characteristic.

Designated roles are designed to help eliminate inequalities for groups that may experience significant disadvantage when it comes to employment, such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, people with disabilities and women.

For example, a company with a very little Aboriginal representation among its employees decides to advertise for and employ Aboriginal people to help address this diversity issue.

Training and resources for employers

The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission offers training for employers as well as a number of useful resources on discrimination and the law.

Related resources

Guideline for the recruitment industry and employers: Complying with the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 in recruitment – Jul 2014


Level 3, 204 Lygon Street Carlton Victoria 3053

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1300 292 153 or (03) 9032 3583

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The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as First Australians and recognises their culture, history, diversity and deep connection to the land.

We acknowledge that the Commission is on the land of the Kulin Nation and pay our respects to Elders past and present.