If you have ever had to apply for a job, chances are you would have come across the question 'Does that mean you are going to move soon?'.
Some military spouses have highlighted their suspicions of facing discrimination over their status as a Forces spouse in interviews, with some unsure whether this is something they have to disclose.
We got in touch with the Army Families Federation for some advice.
What Is Discrimination Law?
The Equality Act is a law which protects you from discrimination.
It means that discrimination or unfair treatment (directly or indirectly), based on certain personal characteristics, is against the law in almost all cases. The Equality Act applies to discrimination based on:
- Gender reassignment
- Religion or belief
- Sexual orientation
- Marriage or civil partnership
- Pregnancy and maternity
It is against the law to discriminate against anyone for these reasons and they are called ‘protected characteristics’.
The Armed Forces is not a protected characteristic but could be linked to marriage/civil partnership if an interviewer asks you a question about being married.
What Should I Do If I Am Asked The Question?
Any questions relating to marital status should not be asked as they could be potentially discriminatory and are not relevant in terms of the candidates’ ability to do the job.
It is difficult to know how to answer, so you could just say something like: “I like to keep my personal life separate.”
Some employers who have signed the Armed Forces Covenant are often keen to find out if a candidate is a Forces spouse.
This is because they have HR policies in place to support military spouses such as additional time off for R&R or deployments.
They would always start by explaining why they are asking the question.
If you identify yourself as a Forces spouse, it could potentially help you. Some may even ask this on the application form as this can help them in other ways, such as by offering guaranteed interview schemes.
No matter how the question is asked, if you are not comfortable disclosing this information, you are not required to tell the interviewer.
If you feel that you have been discriminated against during the recruitment process, specifically because you are an Armed Forces spouse or partner, AFF would really like to hear from you.
The Federation can escalate this to the company itself (if they have signed the Armed Forces Covenant) and to the MOD’s Armed Forces Covenant team.
The Army Families Federation is the independent voice of Army families and works hard to improve the quality of life for Army families around the world – on any aspect that is affected by the Army lifestyle.
The Federation is often pivotal in achieving improvements for Army families such as changes to Government and military policy and changes to the delivery of how things are provided for families.
AFF does not do this by itself. Its role is to highlight problems to the chain of command or service providers, and to work with them and other agencies to improve the support they provide to Service families.
The Federation also provides a signposting service to help people find the right person to speak to, as well as providing useful information for Army families through its website and magazine, Army&You.