Note: This advice is given by the CAP Executive about non-broadcast advertising. It does not constitute legal advice. It does not bind CAP, CAP advisory panels or the Advertising Standards Authority.
Some things in recruitment or business opportunities ads obviously need to be accurate; for example, the vacancy must exist and the pay should be quoted correctly. Some claims, such as those the employer might make about his or her company, are less straight-forward. In the past, the ASA has accepted that a degree of latitude might be acceptable when employers use ‘aspirational’ claims to describe their workplace, mission statement, ethics, etc. Subjective claims or those that are not capable of objective substantiation are likely to be acceptable, for example: “We are a company with integrity. We believe we make the finest widgets at rock bottom prices and work hard to achieve customer satisfaction that is second to none. If you fancy working with true professionals, call us on …”. (Gundersen Bucher Rugman, 23 June 2004 and MCI Worldcom, 29 October 2003).
Claims that are capable of substantiation and likely to affect an applicant’s understanding of the employer might, however, be unacceptable. For example, in 2014, a company wishing to make the claim "24th Fastest Growing Company in Europe" was seen to breach the Code, as the advertiser had not made the basis of the claim clear (PaymentSense Ltd, 24 June 2014).
In a similar vein, marketers must not misrepresent the roles they are offering through misleading wording or descriptions. In 2013, a company advertising door-to-door salespeople roles was seen to breach the Code as, though they described the roles as “target[ing] potential customers at their residences”, the ASA considered that due to the ambiguous nature of the claim, and the ad giving the overall impression of a city-centre based role, the ad was likely to mislead potential applicants (RH Client Solutions, 13 March 2013).
More recently, in 2022, the ASA investigated a Facebook ad for a home care provider that stated “Flexible working patterns” and “Flexible shifts – whether you’re looking for a couple of shifts a week in the Evening or Evening care work on the weekends, we can offer you shifts so you can work whenever it suits you”. The ASA considered that the ad implied consumers would be able to pick shifts that fitted in with their lifestyle. However, the advertiser required employees to determine their fixed “availability to work” period at the outset of their employment, meaning that employees could not change their shifts. As such, the ASA concluded the ad was misleading (Home Instead Ltd, 17 August 2022).
On the whole, the ASA understands that employer puffery in job ads can and will happen as employers want their organisations or opportunities to seem as appealing as possible. However, if the claims go beyond aspirational and subjective, just like any other ad, employers will have to ensure that they can back up any (and all) objective claims.