Recruitment in Britain: Examining employers’ practices and attitudes to employing UK-born and foreign-born workers Madeleine Sumption

Equality and Human Rights Commission Research report 104


By Lorna Adams, Andrea Broughton, Marc Cranney, Sarah Dobie, Rachel Marangozov, Yvonni Markaki, Madeleine Sumption

In August 2015, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (‘the EHRC’) conducted research into employer and employee practices, perceptions and experiences in relation to recruitment. Our aim was to understand whether there was any evidence of differential treatment between UK-born and foreign-born workers with a right to work in the UK; the extent of discrimination on the basis of nationality, and what may be causing it.

The Equality Act 2010 provides protection from discrimination on the grounds of nine ‘protected characteristics’ including race, which covers ethnicity and nationality. The Act makes it unlawful for employers and their agents to discriminate against people seeking employment: they must treat applicants fairly and not discriminate in any arrangements for making appointments.

The research focused on sectors with a high proportion of foreign-born workers and a mixture of skill levels:

  • Food manufacturing
  • Accommodation (hotels, holiday and other short-stay accommodation, youth hostels and camping grounds)
  • Food and beverage service activities (restaurants, mobile food service activities, pubs and bars)
  • Social care
  • Computer programming

Workplaces across these five sectors that have at least 10 staff account for 6% of all UK workplaces. Twelve per cent of the UK workforce is employed in these workplaces.The research is based on a literature review on discriminatory recruitment practices and migrant workers in the UK, quantitative surveys of workplaces and recruitment.

Also see:

Executive Summary

Project description



british, labour, migrants


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