Job applicants' health: can employers ask about it?

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has issued guidance for employers and job applicants on pre employment health questions.

Section 60 of the Equality Act 2010 (the Act) makes it unlawful to ask questions about the health of a job applicant before an offer of employment is made. The aim of Section 60 is to prevent health information being used to sift out disabled job applicants without them having had the opportunity to show they have the skills to do the job.

This is not a blanket ban, there are some exemptions, but the extent of employers’ leeway has been uncertain. The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has now issued two lots of guidance; one for employers and one for job applicants, which sets out some practical examples and aims to assist in the understanding of the legislation.

Section 60 of the Act applies to any recruitment process in England, Wales or Scotland involving external or internal applicants and also to selecting a pool of candidates who may be offered work in the future. Employers, their agents and employment agencies are covered. Enquiries about a job applicant’s health are prohibited up until the point where the job offer is made. At that point, an employer can make the offer conditional upon medical checks and health related questions may be asked…

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