Pre-employment health screening

Tips for dealing with difficult pre-employment medical screening issues

Nearly all of the employers that I’ve worked with spend a significant amount of time and money to get their recruitment right. Along with the typical issues that the recruitment process can raise, a big question that I get asked over-and-over is this: Can we enquire about a candidate’s state of health?

The short answer is no, you can’t.

The Equality Act 2010 introduced a ban on all pre-employment medical screening before a job offer is made. The reasons were based on the fact that it may discourage disabled candidates from applying or, if a medical condition was revealed, it could mean being unfairly ruled out.

There are some circumstances where health questions can be asked indirectly within the application form without falling foul of the rules. For instance, you could ask potential candidates if any reasonable adjustments need to be made to the recruitment process to allow them to participate. Most employers routinely ask this without asking for details of the medical condition.

You may need to find out if a candidate can carry out a particular function that is essential for the role, for example a hospital porter. Are they able to lift and push heavy loads and spend most of their time walking? This exception to the rule is narrow and can only relate to a function that is absolutely fundamental in carrying out the role.

Once a job offer has been made, the restrictions of The Equality Act fall away, and you could make a conditional offer based on the individual passing a health assessment. Be aware though, if the information reveals that the candidate is disabled, withdrawing the offer can be classed as discriminatory unless it can be shown that no reasonable adjustment could be made that would enable the candidate to carry out their role.

If you’re unsure and need assistance with training your interviewers so they understand what questions they can and can’t ask candidates about their health, then get in touch. We can also help you to craft your descriptions and advertisements.

Working with a professional to get this right first time could save you a huge amount of time, money and hassle in the longer term. Give us a call today, and we’ll arrange a no-obligation consultation.