As our readers will know, The Equality Act came into force on 1st October 2010, bringing with it a number of new requirements including restrictions on the use of health-based questions during your recruitment process.

Elsewhere in this edition of The Bottom Line Express, we have an article helping you to understand the Do’s and Dont’s of asking health-related questions when interviewing prospective candidates.

This is essential practice to ensure you remain legally compliant, nonetheless, we also wish to outline to our readers that the new legislative requirements do not completely prevent you from using Health Questionnaires as part of your recruitment activities – however, the essential point here is about getting the timing right.

Once you have made a concrete offer of employment to a candidate, based upon the information gained through the written application and subsequent interview – it is then perfectly reasonable and legally-compliant to ask health-related questions at that stage. The key point is that this should only be undertaken after a decision and an offer has been made.

How you then go about asking these questions is important and one simple way of asking legally-compliant questions at the right time is to use the Health Questionnaire template available to be downloaded on demand from BusinessWise.

Providing a Health Questionnaire for the successful candidate to complete and return to you can – for example – be included as an enclosure with a formal offer letter, perhaps supporting a verbal offer previously made. Alternatively, the Health Questionnaire can be given to the employee on their first day of employment – along with their Employee Handbook and Statement of Main Terms – items which are also available to be downloaded from BusinessWise. Asking the health-related questions at this point in the recruitment process illustrates that the decision you reached to offer the post to the successful candidate is entirely based on their skills, qualifications and experience.

But why should we even bother asking questions about an employee’s health at this point? The motivation to do so is primarily from a welfare perspective: so you can ensure you are aware of anything important regarding your new employee. This may be something that should not affect their ability to carry out the job – this should have been established at interview – but may be important in respect of your duty of care to the individual. A good example of this would be in the case of a new member of office staff who is an insulin-dependant diabetic.

To obtain a copy of the Health Questionnaire – simply login to your BusinessWise account, navigate to the EmployWise tab and click on Personnel Stationery. The Form HQ can then be immediately downloaded for you to use.

If you should require any assistance with locating or downloading the Health Questionnaire template, please contact the BusinessWise Helpdesk on 0844 892 2780.

Alternatively, if you should have any queries regarding your recruitment process and how The Equality Act may affect this, please contact your 24 Hour Advice Service by logging an Advice Request via BusinessWise, or alternatively by calling us on 0844 892 2772.

BusinessWise offers a range of tools and features to registered users to assist in managing the ongoing obligations associated with running an effective and legally-compliant business and is provided as part of our portfolio of consultancy services. If you are not yet a Peninsula client, simply go to www.pbsnet.com and click on ‘Contact Us’ to get in touch.