Monday, 25 October 2010

Health check warning for employers

Shropshire company bosses must be wary when it comes to asking about the health of any potential new employee.

John Mehtam, from our Employment Law Team, said the rules had changed with the introduction of the Equality Act earlier this month.

“Employers are now strictly limited in terms of when they can ask health-related questions during the recruitment process. The new rules will affect the way companies manage potential candidates, and all businesses will need to review their procedures and application forms.”

John said employers could only ask health-related questions prior to a job offer in certain circumstances.

“You can ask these questions before you offer the person a job if you need to decide whether the applicant can carry out the essential duties that the role involves, such as heavy lifting. But if this is the case, you must think about reasonable adjustments which could be made to help the person carry out the role.

“You can also ask such questions to monitor diversity and to take positive action, or to make sure the candidate has a disability where the job genuinely requires the post holder to have a disability, such as a counselling role. And if employers fail to comply with the new rules, their company could face limitless fines if a successful claim for discrimination, victimisation or harassment is filed against them.”

John said the new Act had also introduced major changes on third party harassment, discrimination, powers of employment tribunals, and pay secrecy. “The Act reinforces existing legislation on discrimination, and it’s vital that employers ensure they are meeting the new criteria or face serious consequences.”