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.
How do you establish what reasonable adjustments are needed and can you refuse to employ?
Here are 5 key points to ensure you stay compliant:-
1. The Equality Act 2010 stipulates that questions regarding health cannot be asked until a job offer is made. We use the 4 question approach now recommended as best practice in employment law. The aim of the process is to establish if a member of staff requires reasonable adjustments in order to carry out their role
2. These are the 4 questions we use and they should only be asked 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?
· Have you ever had any health/medical problems which may have been made worse by work?
· Are you having or waiting for any investigations/tests or on any long term prescribed medication?
· Do you need any special adjustments to allow you to undertake this role?
3. If an employee answers yes to any of the 4 questions they will need to complete a health questionnaire and forward it direct to an OH Adviser. The health questionnaire and 4 questions should be given to them at the same as the letter confirming employment and should go direct to OH, not through Manager or HR.
4. It is likely then that the OH Adviser will then have to speak to the employee on the telephone to gain more information about their health status. Where reasonable adjustments are required, we may need to undertake a site visit to see where the employee will be working or undertake a face to face consultation. Further enquiries about any declared medical conditions may need to be undertaken by for example writing to the GP. The OH Adviser will then issue a statement of fitness for role to the employer with information on any adjustments needed.
5. Where under HSE Regulation, health surveillance is needed (audiometry, HAVS, spirometry etc) a baseline health assessment medical will still need to be carried out by the OH Adviser to ensure fitness for the role and to identify any adjustments needed or identify any pre-existing medical conditions which may affect safety at work or which may result in future claims. Employees will then be entered into the appropriate health surveillance programme database for their role. A Fitness Statement will be issued containing relevant guidance
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 job offer, but you will need OH advice specifically regarding this first.