Occupational Health Blog

How to Manage Recruitment Health Questions Fairly.

Here at the Occupational Health Business Ltd we are often asked about recruitment and how to ensure applicants with health conditions are managed fairly under The Equality Act 2010.

Are you still sending out questionnaires asking for confidential health information and then making decisions on prospective employee’s fitness for work based on this information? If so, read on and consider making changes on how to better manage this.

Here is an easy checklist to ensure you manage this process fairly and effectively: –

Use the 4 question approach.

We now advise clients to use the 4 questions approach when seeking information about health and adjustments as recommended as best practice in employment law. These 4 questions should be sent out with the job offer and just a yes/no answer should be asked for.

The Equality Act 2010 stipulates that questions regarding health cannot be asked until a job offer is made. It should be made clear that new employees should put NO medical information onto this questionnaire. The aim of the process is to establish if a member of staff requires reasonable adjustments to carry out their role, not to screen them out because they may have medical conditions.

This process is not intended to ‘weed out’ people who might have a high level of sickness absence in the future. It is intended to identify if the candidates you have recruited needs any reasonable adjustments at work.

Only ask once a job offer has been made.

  • Do you have any health/medical problems or physical limitations which may affect your   ability to carry out this role? Yes/No
  • Have you ever had any health/medical problems which may have been made worse by work? Yes/No
  • Are you having or waiting for any investigations/tests or on any long term prescribed medication? Yes/No
  • Do you need any special adjustments to allow you to undertake this role? Yes/No

*No medical information should be included on this questionnaire*

This questionnaire should be kept by HR in the employee’s file if all responses are NO.

  1. Any ‘Yes’ responses need to be assessed by Occupational Health.

If an employee answers yes to any of the 4 questions they will need to be assessed by an Occupational Health Nurse so that you can be advised if any reasonable adjustments are needed. Many medical conditions are appropriately treated, need no adjustments and have no impact on work capability, but you need an Occupational Health Nurse to assess this.

No Occupational Health support? Then contact a local Occupational Health provider so that you can set up a process which works for your business on an ongoing basis.

If the new joiner has answered yes to any of the 4 questions, the Occupational Health Nurse will need to carry out a telephone consultation to gain more information about their health status. Where job specific reasonable adjustments are required, a site visit may be needed to see where the employee will be working and assess physical capability, but this is rare.

The Occupational Health Nurse will then issue a statement of fitness for role to the employer with any recommended adjustments. It is then an employer’s decision whether the adjustments recommended are reasonable for the business to put in place.

  1. Can you implement the reasonable adjustments?

Remember, if the reasonable adjustments mean that a substantial part of the role cannot be carried out (a driving job where it is advised no driving) then you may have grounds to withdraw a job offer.

Employers should not be worried about reasonable adjustments, as they will enable the new employee to be able to carry out the role you have employed them to do and are usually not that difficult or costly to implement. Where items such as special equipment may be needed, The Government scheme, Access to Work can make a workplace assessment visit and will part fund equipment needed for employees to carry out their role.

Ultimately it is your decision what reasonable adjustment your company can implement, but remember you need to think flexibly.

Please visit my website for further information and sign up for regular updates. www.theohbusiness.co.uk