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Pre-Employment Questions

What employers can and can not ask you during the application process

When you apply for a job with a new employer or for a promotion, sometimes you’ll be asked questions about your health.

What does the law say?

Most of the time employers shouldn’t ask you about your health, whether you have any impairments or how many sick days you’ve had before they offer you a job. To do so is a form of discrimination under the Equality Act 2010. If employers ask questions about your health or impairment before a job offer, you don’t have to answer them.

Not asking questions about health or impairments makes sure that all job applicants are treated equally and not ruled out because of issues relating to their health or impairment.

No-one else can ask these questions on the employer’s behalf either. So, an employer cannot refer you to an occupational health practitioner or ask you to fill in a questionnaire before the offer of a job is made (or before you have been included in a pool of successful applicants) except in very limited circumstances.

An employer can ask questions once they have made a job offer or included you in a group of successful candidates. At this stage, the employer could ask about your health or impairments to check that they would not prevent you from doing the job.

Employers must also consider whether there are reasonable adjustments that would enable you to do the job.

When it is OK for people to ask you about your health or impairment?

The law says sometimes employers can ask about your health or impairment when you apply for a job for the following reasons:

  • Monitoring forms: They can ask about questions about disability, but the information should be private and should not be used to decide who gets the job. Monitoring forms that are anonymous are useful as they let the employer know if they are attracting a diverse range of applications.
  • Employers can ask about whether you can do important parts of the job: For example, if you need to drive a car, they can ask if you can see well enough to drive, but they should also think about reasonable adjustments they can make if you can’t.
  • If there is a practical element to the recruitment process: An employer could ask whether there are any conditions or impairments they need to be aware of from a health & safety perspective.
  • To find out if you need support during the recruitment process, at an audition or interview: Application forms may state: ‘Please contact us if you need the application form in an alternative format’ or you may be asked if you have any access requirements to enable you to attend an audition or interview.
  • To recruit more disabled people: Sometimes an employer may want to recruit more disabled people to ensure that their workforce is diverse.
  • If you’re offered the job: Employers can ask questions about your health or impairment. Employers can also ask you to go for a health check, but they cannot decide you are wrong for the job after that because of a health condition or impairment. This would be direct discrimination under the Equality Act 2010.

If you are asked questions about your health or impairment or you think you have experienced disability discrimination contact your regional office for advice.