THE founder of a communications company was left "astounded" when the job centre told him he had to claim an exemption to the Equality Act – for asking for job applicants to be able to speak excellent English. The Department for Work and Pensions has pledged to review its procedures this week, following Paul Scully's complaint. Mr Scully started Nudge Factory, based in High Street, Croydon, along with business partner Ahzaz Chowdhury. The pair wanted to hire a personal assistant to help expand the business, so they placed an advert with the Government's online Universal Jobmatch service, hoping it would help them find someone local to fill the role. But instead they received a response asking why an applicant needs to speak a particular language, and asking for details of how that may be worked around, stating a justification for exemption to the Equality Act 2010 was needed before their advert was placed. The pair withdrew the advert and decided to go elsewhere, annoyed at the "politically correct red tape" they had encountered. Mr Scully, who is standing for the Conservatives in Sutton and Cheam next year, said: "There just comes a point where you need to apply a little bit of common sense. "I would have thought it would be obvious why a communications company needs someone to speak excellent English. "The Government is doing great things in terms of helping people take up new jobs, but there are things like this that still need to be sorted. "It will only hamper efforts to get people into jobs." The Act is designed to prevent employers from discriminating on the grounds of age, disability, gender, marriage, race, sexual orientation or religious belief. But discrimination based on language is not included in the law, which has led Mr Scully to question why they had been asked to give an exemption when they wanted someone with a skill, not of a particular race or nationality. The DWP has since admitted their checks "may have been too strict". A spokesman for the government department said: "Universal Jobmatch is successfully helping people into work with around half a million employers now registered, and we have robust procedures in place to ensure that vacancies comply with equality legislation and that jobseekers are not discriminated against. "In this case those checks may have been too strict and we are now reviewing our procedures. We will be in touch with Mr Scully."
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