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Facial disfigurement - guidance launched for employers

Changing Faces, a national charity, has released guidance to assist employers in dealing with employees both current and prospective who suffer with the issue of facial disfigurement.  The charity supports individuals who are living with scars, marks or conditions, which affect their appearance.  Research published by them revealed that 43% of the individuals surveyed did not apply for a job because they believed their face would not fit.  The full guidance is available on the website, but some of the
key issues covered are as follows:

Employers could assist people who are scared to make the application because of scars or marks, by making it clear in their equality statement that they go above and beyond the protected characteristics specified in the discrimination legislation to ensure fair treatment of all candidates.  Avoiding phrases such as “must be well presented” will also assist.  Use of photo shop perfect images in promotional literature or on websites can dissuade prospective employees.

Although not illegal per se to ask for a photograph with a CV or application, employers should consider whether it is essential for selection purposes.  Failing to recruit or shortlist someone who has supplied a photograph which shows any form of protected characteristic, could be legally an issue.

As an employer you should think about whether any disfigurement will directly impact on a candidate’s ability to do the job in question.

As with disabilities, do not make assumptions about a candidate based on their appearance but look beyond that to their experience and character.

Changing Faces provides expert training to employers to ensure that their workplaces are fair and inclusive and to allow employers to become more aware of how their unconscious attitudes about appearance may affect their policies and practice.