Here at ViewHR we are often asked by employers about whether they should include pre-employment medical screening as part of their processes when recruiting a new employee. Pre-employment medical screening can be very beneficial to both the new employee and the employer, to ensure that people are fit to undertake the role they are being recruited for, and are appropriately supported in this.
However, used incorrectly, pre-employment medical screening can lead to discrimination, and the employer missing out on talented new recruits. As such, in this blog, the ViewHR team has compiled our top tips for using pre-employment medical screening.
1. After the job offer
Since the Equality Act was introduced in 2010, employers have not been allowed to require candidates to undertake pre-employment medical screening prior to making a job offer. This is to reduce the chances of disability discrimination during the interview and selection process. Instead, if a pre-employment medical is required, this should be undertaken after the employer has offered the job to their preferred candidate. If the prospective employee is required to “pass” the medical (i.e. meet a required standard), then the employer may make the offer of employment conditional upon this.
2. Tailor to the job
Employers should ensure that any pre-employment medical screening that they implement considers any specific needs for the role, particularly if the employee needs to meet a certain standard as part of a conditional offer of employment. For example, an airline recruiting a new pilot will need to ensure that they meet the required standards of vision as prescribed by the Civil Aviation Authority. However, subjecting an applicant for a job in the Marketing Department of the same company to the same standard could be discriminatory, because there is no job-related need (or Genuine Occupational Requirement) for them to meet this standard.
3. Seek more information
Sometimes a pre-employment medical screening form may be returned with some information that appears rather alarming to the employer. However, not every person with the same medical condition will have the same symptoms or levels of illness, or require the same support. As such, it is important not to make assumptions. Instead, seeking further information (with the employee’s consent) from the employee’s GP or an occupational health provider may be beneficial before making decisions about what this information means.
4. Implement appropriate support
One of the key benefits of undertaking pre-employment medicals is that they provide an opportunity to identify any support a prospective employee may benefit from to be able to undertake the role. There is a legal obligation to consider reasonable adjustments for a prospective employee who has a disability, however it is not only in this situation that you may be able to identify support that could benefit a new member of the team. This can be very helpful to help keep the employer’s turnover rate low, as employees who feel well-supported by their line manager can be more loyal.
5. Manage personal data carefully
Data relating to physical or mental health, including that contained within pre-employment medical questionnaires, is classified as sensitive personal information under the Data Protection Act 2018. As such, employers need to take care and follow the Information Commissioner’s Guidance relating to safely processing and storing this data.
If you are an employer and have further questions about pre-employment medicals, please do not hesitate to contact the ViewHR team for a further discussion based on the needs of your business.