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Does the law permit employers to target only women or only men in their job offers?

A job offer must not be aimed solely at either women or men (§ 8 of the Gender Equality Act).

Neither does the law allow employers to prefer an applicant in a recruitment situation only because of their gender if they are not at least as competent for the position as an applicant of the opposite sex (subsections 5 (1) and 6 (1) of the Gender Equality Act). This is the case even if the organisation is staffed exclusively or mainly by either men or women. A job offer like this constitutes direct discrimination.

An exemption from this prohibition on direct discrimination may only be made in the cases laid down by law if there are objective reasons for making the exception. For example, if an employee of one or the other sex is required due to the nature of the work (clause 5 (2) 4) of the Gender Equality Act). This may be the case if a theatre is looking for an actor of one or the other gender for a certain role, or an agency is looking for a model to present women’s or men’s clothes. A person is also permitted to look for a person of the same sex as them to be their personal carer.

The second permitted exception is where special temporary measures are applied which favour the underrepresented sex or reduce gender inequality (clause 5 (2) 5) of the Gender Equality Act). For example, if an organisation has significantly fewer women than men in management positions, it could set up a training or mentoring programme specifically for women.

The prohibition on indirect discrimination cannot be disregarded in recruitment either (clause 3 (1) 4) and subsection 5 (1) of the Gender Equality Act). For instance, unreasonable height or physical strength requirements not related to the duties, uninterrupted length of service or the absence of a duty of care may not be set as preconditions for recruitment.
§ 8 of the Gender Equality Act

This explanation does not constitute legal aid in a specific case. Therefore, if you feel that you have been treated unequally, but you did not find a solution to your problem in this article, or if you have a question, please contact the Equality Commissioner by e-mail at avaldus@volinik.ee or telephone +372 626 9059. The anonymity of the person is guaranteed when contacting the Commissioner.