Previously, it was commonplace that job applicants were asked to fill in a standard questionnaire relating to all aspects of health and fitness, or were directly asked health questions during an interview. However, this is now generally forbidden.
Therefore, as a rule of thumb, employers should avoid asking job applicants any questions at all relating to their health, for example, whether they suffer from back trouble, or arthritis, or depression etc. Employers should not even tackle the subject of how many days of sickness absence the applicant has taken in the past year.
There are a few extremely narrow circumstances in which an employer can ask health questions at, or before, interview (see Issue 35 from 25th August 2010), for example, to establish a person’s ability to carry out a function that is intrinsic to that job. A construction company could, for example, ask about health or disability at interview for a scaffolder if the questions relate specifically to an applicant’s ability to climb ladders and scaffolding to a significant height.
An employer is free to ask health questions after a job offer has been made but questions during the interview now should focus on the applicant’s skills, qualifications and experience to establish if they can do the job.
If you need any more information about carrying out an interview process or The Equality Act 2010 please contact our 24 hour Advice Service on 0844 892 2772.