Job Interviews – What Kind of Questions Can I Ask ?
It’s quite common for legislation to come attached with myths and the introduction of the Equality Act 2010 was no exception. Some media reports suggest that you are simply prohibited from asking any questions about a candidate’s health. Fortunately that’s not the case, but you do have to be very careful.
The Act does however stop you asking health-related questions before you make a job offer – subject to the exceptions below. Failing to follow this will, if you don’t proceed with the application, lead to an automatic finding of disability discrimination in any employment tribunal claim! And that can prove very expensive indeed.
Is it ever safe to ask about a candidate’s health?
The answer this question is yes – there are exceptions to the basic rule which allow you to ask questions relating to any job candidate’s health if:
- Their health is relevant to an intrinsic part of the job e.g. they need to carry out heavy lifting.
- The question is necessary to allow for adjustments to be made in the interview to ensure the candidate is not placed at a disadvantage.
- Disability is a requirement of the job
Asking health questions after the interview
However once a job offer is made, the position is different.
The job can, for example, be conditional on a satisfactory medical examination or upon satisfactory replies to health-related inquiries (you might use a medical questionnaire, for example). Like requiring satisfactory references, the job offer can be withdrawn if the result of any examination or medical questionnaire is not satisfactory.
But even then you have to be careful. For example, withdrawing a job offer from someone on the basis of a poor sickness record could land you in an employment tribunal disability discrimination claim. In rejecting a candidate on health grounds, you should consider the possibility of making any reasonable adjustments to the job or work environment, before making your decision.
Like any other aspect of employment law, if you’re an employer, don’t take chances if you don’t know your legal position. Call one of our specialist employment lawyers and find out where you stand.
Looking for Employment Solicitors? Our experts can help
If you’ve got legal problems with an employee, why not call our experienced employment law team today for specialist, no obligation FREE initial phone advice.
- Call our team on SALISBURY (01722) 422300 or
- Call FREE on FREEPHONE 0800 1404544 or
- E-mail us using the online enquiry form below