HR · 27 November 2018

Are “male-only Santa” job roles discriminatory?

Employers filling roles concerning acting skills, such as Santa, can rely on the legitimate aim of authenticity

Headlines in New Zealand have recently focused on the firing of the Farmers Auckland Christmas parade’s Santa after he commented that females could not be hired for the role of Santa. Whilst New Zealand has laws which outlaw discrimination on the grounds of sex, how would a similar issue be considered in the UK?

The Equality Act 2010

The Equality Act 2010 outlaws less favourable treatment on the grounds of nine protected characteristics, including disability, religion, sexual orientation and sex.

This means that an employer cannot make their decision of whether to make an offer of employment or not, based on the applicant’s gender. Instead, the decision needs to be made on objective factors, such as whether the job candidate has sufficient previous experience or the required qualifications to carry out the role.

Care must also be taken to avoid inferring that a discriminatory decision will be made through the use of job adverts, e.g. rather than having gender-specific language such as Waitresses Wanted, ensure advertisements are gender-neutral to avoid the risk of a male applicant claiming his refusal to be offered the job was because of his gender.



Kate Palmer CIPD is the head of advisory at law firm Peninsula and is a member of its senior leadership team. She joined in 2009 having held a senior HR manager's role in another large company. With a specialist background in facilities management in the NHS, Kate offers a wealth of employment law experience. She's an expert negotiator - one notable case was with the NHS's trade unions over terms and conditions in the Agenda for Change pay system.