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Health questions at interview stage

To Ask or Not to Ask....Should There Be a Question?

Many employers are unaware of an important amendment to the Equality Act which prevents employers questioning job applicants about their health or disability prior to any job offer. The prohibition is subject to certain exceptions described below.

Interviewees will not be able to make tribunal claims simply because they were asked health related questions, but if they don’t get the job, and claim disability discrimination, the fact that such questions were asked will raise a presumption of discrimination that the employer will have to disprove.

Employees will have to establish they are disabled to make such claims in the first place.Employers will be permitted to ask pre-offer health questions in order to:

  • establish whether the candidate is fit to undergo an assessment or making adjustments to allow the candidate to undergo an assessment e.g. establishing if adjustments need to be made for a partially sighted candidate to sit a written test.
  • establish if the candidate can carry out a function intrinsic to the work concerned e.g. for a driving/delivery job whether he/she is fit to drive and unload deliveries.
  • monitor diversity in the workplace.

There is nothing to prevent an employer making any job offer subject to a satisfactory medical report. We recommend this to our clients in same way job offers are subject to receipt of satisfactory references.

This change will affect the way in which most employers ask questions about applicants’ health. It will no longer be acceptable to ask these questions on the application form or during the interview process. It is acceptable to ask applicants whether they have a disability or condition which would mean they would require extra time to complete psychometric tests at interview but this should have no bearing on the outcome.

We recommend that organisations review their recruitment and selection strategies, and we can offer advice in support in this area which will not only enhance what you currently do but will ensure you comply with the proposed changes in employment legislation which take affect in October this year. To make sure your business is protected and that you have effective recruitment practices, please call us today on 0800 612 4772 or get a Free Quote for HR Services via our website.

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