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What Questions Can an Employer Ask You About Your Health

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Nov 16, 2022 4 min read

During every interview in your job-search, you can encounter an endless amount of interview questions.

Most of them are directed towards your qualifications, experience, and how well you would fit in the company.

However, there are interview questions that have become illegal over the years, mostly because of equality acts.

When asked a potentially illegal question, you are put in a really tough spot, but there is a way around it.

In this article, we are going to explore health-related questions, and the following questions about them:

  • Can employers ask about your health?
  • What questions can employers ask about your health?
  • What questions are illegal for employers to ask about your health?
  • How to answer illegal questions about your health?

So, if you are ready to learn more about that topic, let’s dive in.

Can employers ask you about your health?

In the past, there was no restriction in asking health-related questions during an interview.

However, since the implementation of the Equality Act in October 2010, it is illegal to be asked health-related questions during an interview. It is in fact illegal as a whole prior to receiving a job offer.

That being said, most health-related interview questions are forbidden, but there are some cases in which they are not.

We are going to explore the questions employers can ask, and those that are illegal.

What questions can employers ask about your health?

When it is being decided whether a health-related interview question is illegal or not, it is all about the intention of the employer.

They are permitted to ask pre-offer health questions in order to:

  • establish if any adjustments need to be made for a candidate to undergo an assessment (for example, a partially sighted candidate to sit a written text)
  • establish whether the candidate can carry out a task or function which is essential to the job (for example, for a delivery job whether they are fit to drive and unload deliveries)
  • establish whether any adjustments need to be made for them, like installing ramps or disabled toilet facilities

Other than that, an employer can only ask you health-related questions only after a job offer, or a conditional offer, has been made, and possibly require you to undergo a medical assessment.

What questions are illegal for employers to ask about your health?

After seeing the tight limits of the health-related questions an employer can ask during an interview, you can already understand that most of them are in fact illegal.

Sickness, disabilities, and a person’s health status are all topics that should be avoided at all cost during an interview, unless the question is directly linked to the job.

All in all, any health-related interview question that is not directly connected to the job requirements is illegal to be asked during an interview.

How to answer illegal questions about your health?

Even though most health-related interview questions are generally prohibited, you might encounter an illegal one during some interviews.

What you need to keep in mind is that it is probably not what it looks like, and the employer is not trying to find out information that is not connected to the job.

In this case, what you should do is keep your answer short and containing enough information that your health, whatever it is, would not be an obstacle to the job.

An example for your answer would be “I am fully able to perform the essential job functions as you have described them”.

That both provides a professional answer, and reassures the employer that you are able to perform the job.

Takeaways

We are all done, now you know how to handle health-related questions if you encounter any.

Let’s do a quick recap about everything you need to know about it:

  • Under the Equality Act from October 2010, it is illegal for employers to ask health-related questions that are not directly linked to the job responsibilities
  • Employers can ask health-related questions if it helps them determine if you are able to perform essential tasks for the job
  • Employers can ask health-related questions if they need to make adjustments, like installing ramps or disabled toilet facilities
  • If you get asked a health-related question in an interview, consider its point, and provide a short and professional answer that assures the employer that you are able to do the job, without the need for you to share medical details

Remembering all that, you should be good and ready to deal with any health-related interview questions you encounter.

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Kal Dimitrov
Kaloyan Dimitrov is a resume expert and content manager at Enhancv. He frequently publishes blog posts around resume writing, cover letters & job applications, and authors more than 500 publications on the site. Kaloyan also runs a Career Accelerator Bootcamp for young graduates where he applies his practical knowledge of job applications and writing resumes and educates people on how to present their best selves in front of business representatives. His opinions on resume writing and career development have been featured in Chron., as well as cited by top universities such as Simon Fraser University and UCL.
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