Pre-employment medical assessments offer an opportunity to ensure that applicants are fit for work, that they will not be put at risk by work or put others at risk. It is also an opportunity to identify any requirements for adjustments under the Equality Act 2010. The Equality Act states that it is effectively unlawful to ask about health before the job offer is made in order to avoid discrimination against disability. Questions can be asked prior to job offer if they are essential for the role; for example someone being employed as a driver must be fit to drive in accordance with DVLA guidelines. Otherwise care should be taken to avoid asking any questions about health prior to offering the job unless they are necessary for the application process; for example asking about the need for wheelchair access to a job interview, or ensuring written information is provided in alternative forms for applicants who have visual disability.
Employees are more likely to be open about any health problems if they can discuss these in confidence with occupational health professionals.
In many cases a simple questionnaire is all that is needed, just asking if there are any medical conditions likely to affect the ability of the applicant to do the job and if the applicant has a disability. This can be followed up by a medical assessment if this is indicated. Where there are specific health requirements in the role, simple questions alone often fail to identify the problems. For example eczema on the hands represents a substantial infection risk for healthcare workers but an applicant may not realise this. A person with an underlying joint problem may be coping fine now, but they may be at substantially increased risk if they undertake a demanding physical job.
In some cases such as taxi driving, heavy goods vehicle/large goods vehicle licencing (LGV), public service vehicle (PSV) driving, or employment as a seafarer, a formal medical assessment is a requirement by law. In other cases a formal medical assessment may be recommended because of the specific risks involved, including the requirement for health surveillance, the need for high levels of physical fitness, or overseas travel and expatriate work.
We can advise on the best way to manage pre-employment assessment, and provide expert advice where individual concerns over fitness for work have been identified.
We can help you identify when the Equality Act 2010 might apply and how to make reasonable adjustments to meet your obligations under this legislation.