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Thread: Applying for a new job with a mental health sickness record

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    , , United Kingdom.

    Lightbulb Applying for a new job with a mental health sickness record

    I thought that others might find this information that I've been given today helpful. Perhaps this could be stickied so it's easy to find?

    The information relates to the legal stance on employers/recruiters asking for health record information from job applicants. For instance, the job application I found today which prompted me to seek advice asks:
    1. How many days sickness absence have you had in the past 3 years?
    2. On how many occasions?
    3. Do you suffer from any recurring ailments?
    Obviously this could potentially disadvantage people who, like myself, have had an extended sickness absence due to a mental health problem (in my case, stress/anxiety brought about by treatment in the workplace).

    The information I have gathered this afternoon relates to people living in England, and comes from:
    • The MIND Legal Advice line (0300 466 6463) and website
    • The Equality and Human Rights Commission Advice line (0800 444 205) and website
    • A Human Resources advice website,
    so it is genuine advice from bodies who make this sort of situation their business.

    The advice I've received can be broken down thus:
    1. The Equality Act of October 2010 prohibits employers/recruiters from seeking health information from job applicants before a job offer (conditional or unconditional) is made.
    2. This means that you cannot be asked to fill in a medical history questionnaire, or be asked for any specific information relating to your physical or mental health at the application stage (either in an application form, or via CV/letter).
    3. You can be asked for generic information about your health or disability to establish whether or not you require special provisions to be made for your interview. For example, you can be asked "Do you consider yourself to have a disability?" or "Do you require any special provisions to be made for you to attend an interview?". This gives you the opportunity to say, for example, that you cannot climb stairs (e.g. due to a motor disability) or that if there is a test as part of the interview you require extra time (e.g. due to Dyslexia, or an anxiety condition). It is the employer's responsibility under the Equality Act 2010 to make reasonable adjustments to accomodate any disabilities you disclose, at both interview and if you are offered the job.
    4. It is illegal for an employer to choose a different candidate based solely upon your response(s) as detailed in point 3. If you suspect that you have been discriminated against because of a disclosed disability, and the disability falls under the definitions in the Equality Act, you may have a claim for discrimination. The employer would then have to prove that they have made the recruitment decision based upon criteria outside of the disability you disclosed (e.g. that the other candidate had stronger experience/more fitting skills etc.)
    5. The Equality Act 2010 does not specifically make mention of whether employers can ask how many days sickness leave you have taken, but the advice I was given today was that such a question may be considered un-sound, legally, and so to either not answer the question (citing the terms of the Equality Act as the reason), or to only disclose those sickness absences which were not due to a disability as defined by the Equality Act. For example, disclose any absences due to colds, migraines etc. but not any due to mental health conditions.
    6. It is your choice whether you disclose that you consider yourself to have a disability on an equal opportunities monitoring form or similar. As above, this information cannot legally be used to make a decision on whether to offer a job or not, and being honest may make it easier for your employer to make reasonable adjustments to your responsibilities if you were to be offered the position.
    More information on this issue can be found at these links:
    MIND Legal Unit FAQs
    Equality & Human Rights Commission (EHRC)
    Xpert HR website

    Please note: I am not a lawyer, advisor or otherwise so cannot offer additional advice or guidance beyond the above. I'm just a job applicant who came across this issue and sought further advice from the services listed above

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2012

    Re: Applying for a new job with a mental health sickness record

    Thanks for the information Elle-Kay. It's really useful and will give me a heads up.



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2012

    Re: Applying for a new job with a mental health sickness record

    Yes...I always worry about this when I consider changing job roles! I always felt that I couldn't even apply internally for other departments as they have immediate access to my "excessive sick" ...

    Sometimes I think people actually think anxiety/depression sufferes choose to be this way.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2012

    Re: Applying for a new job with a mental health sickness record

    I feel the same Lu and the thing that puts me off changing jobs is my sickness record but the job I am in has been the cause of a lot of my anxiety. x

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2011

    Re: Applying for a new job with a mental health sickness record

    I am about to start a new job and this is what i worry about.....i had made exuses last job i had at times, this was also to do with the work conditions and someone in my work, who i eventually got pulled up. Just had a mini break down today after trying to help myself by doing a workout and one thing lead to another and everything in my room crashed and i just fell to bits when i thought that i had a hold on it. This just triggered the breakdown. I feel so numb at the moment but i find that diazepam has helped last night to give me a sleep. May try this again tonight. I hope i can prove my beliefs and assumptions wrong about this new is hoping.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2011

    Re: Applying for a new job with a mental health sickness record

    i may need to read up on this information well i will need to do...
    as um having to resign from my job due to ill health and it so upsetting, burst out crying now again just because im writing it down

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