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We say that questions asking for legal advice are off-topic (rightly so). I always thought this meant "what should I do in this situation?" (which may also be too localized), or "what exactly does this clause of an employment contract mean", and stuff like that -- specialized questions for which you really need to consult a lawyer, not anonymous people on the internet.

So I was surprised by the close reason for Illegal interview/application questions in the UK? . Yes the question should be closed for asking two different questions in one, but after separation I would expect both questions to be appropriate. This seems to be a general question about hiring/interview limitations in the UK; if it were instead asking what the illegal questions are in the US, I don't think anybody would have blinked.

So what am I missing? What makes this question off-topic as a legal question, and should we then apply the same metric to any question that asks about things you can't ask/do in the hiring process?

Note: I don't have a horse in this race; I'm just puzzled and asking for clarification.

  • Just a comment: I don't see the second question surviving as a separate question as it can receive a variety of answers. I was once told on here to ask something as a separate question and it was closed (this was before holds existed). I also don't entirely understand how my first question is too broad. There must be some sort of guideline of the questions allowed to be asked by an interviewer in the UK. I think this would avoid getting many questions asking whether so and so question is allowed. – user9917 Aug 19 '13 at 16:40
  • @BryanUrízar, I think your two separate questions here (as separate questions) are both reasonable for this site. I didn't upvote the current one because of the two-in-one factor, not because of either half of the content. "How do I talk with my new employer about work-hour restrictions" seems on par with "how do I talk about..." pre-existing vacations, family medical leave, accessibility accommodations -- all of which have been asked here. (And I have a nagging feeling that I've answered the Shabbat question, but I can't find it so maybe it was on Mi Yodeya.) – Monica Cellio Aug 19 '13 at 17:00
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    As one of the close voters, I voted to close this one in particular as too broad. For the first question in it, googling "illegal interview questions uk" brings up good answers (w/ citations) already. If the second question were asked by itself (the one about the "right way to address working hours"), that would be a perfectly answerable question here (IMHO). However, having a meta question to better define off-topic for legal reasons is a good idea! – jcmeloni Aug 19 '13 at 21:51
  • possible duplicate of What is asking for legal advice? – IDrinkandIKnowThings Aug 26 '13 at 21:36
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We actually had an extended discussion on what legal advice is:

Legal advice is asking a question that needs an answer by a lawyer, not a HR manager or career guidance counselor.

However, in the specific case of this question, I don't think that's the main issue. Even if the answer was clearly given in regards to the legality/illegality, it won't solve the issue. This person has clearly been asked about religion during interviews, and whether it is legal or not doesn't much matter if it's being asked anyway. Some far better ways the question could be phrased would be:

  • "What are the consequences for refusing to answer a question about religious affiliation during an interview in the UK?"
  • "When is the best time to bring up special religious requirements when applying for work in the UK?"

These sorts of questions may have a legal component involved (if it is illegal, that would certainly help answer the first question), but at their heart they are asking how to navigate the actual problem.

A lot of "legal" questions that I read seem to amount to someone trying to find a way to punish activity they don't like/find distasteful. Here are some examples:

What a lot of these questions share is that responding to the legal component rarely actually solves the underlying problem. I think that the question you are asking about suffers from the same issue.

On the other hand, if it were a question from the other side of the table, I think it would be fair game. For instance:

Is it illegal to discriminate on the basis of special religious requirements in the UK?

We are putting out ads for Position X in Location Y in the UK. There are many people of religion Z in the area who require special religious considerations which limit their ability to work the hours expected by our owner. Under what circumstances are we allowed to legally discriminate, and how do we best address this legally during the interview process?

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