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Employers and medical history

Discussion in 'education & employment' started by Fingers, Aug 9, 2012.

  1. Fingers

    Fingers From Tuscany SE22


    My friend started a new job a couple for weeks ago and her employers (a charity) have sent her a form to fill out which asks her about her medical history.

    She has a history of depression which is under control but obviously she does not want to have to tell her employers.

    Are they in their right to ask for this sort of information? And if they are, what would be the consequences if she omitted that bit and they found out?
  2. Greebo

    Greebo 'scuse me, Mrs May, can I have my country back? R.I.P.

    Good news: Under the DDA, you can't be sacked just for having a longstanding illness which you're currently managing. If you have to mention anything like that, IMHO it's always a good idea to emphasise that either you've made a full recovery, or that your condition is under control and your doctor's satisfied that your job's unlikely to either make it worse or to trigger a relapse.

    Bad news: If she fails to mention her previous history of depression (no matter how well-controlled her depression currently is) and then it recurs or becomes worse, she could be sacked for gross misconduct (ie. lying on that form).
    zippyRN and sheothebudworths like this.
  3. whackbangdeadly

    whackbangdeadly Well-Known Member

    I thought that under DDA legislation you had an absolute right to not have to disclose any condition unless it was materially relevant to the role

    I was told this by the ECHR a while back after having the piss (literally) taken out of my disability during an interview
    cesare likes this.
  4. bi0boy

    bi0boy Power User

    How would they ever know she had a previous history of depression unless she granted them access to her medical records?
  5. Greebo

    Greebo 'scuse me, Mrs May, can I have my country back? R.I.P.

    In the hypothetical case of a relapse meaning that she had to take time off work, they might (I'm not sure about this) contact her GP.
  6. cesare

    cesare don't mourn, organise!

  7. Greebo

    Greebo 'scuse me, Mrs May, can I have my country back? R.I.P.

    I'll take your word about that bit of the DDA, seeing as I've not needed to know it. Refraining from disclosing isn't the same as writing words to the effect of "no previous mental illness".
  8. Fingers

    Fingers From Tuscany SE22

    Thanks I guess the big question is, but if she does have a relapse can her employers legally get access to her medical records?

    The main reason she is worried about this is she was hounded out of her last job after disclosing and she is currently going through an unfair dismissal claim.

    She was perfectly well during the entire time she worked for them
  9. Greebo

    Greebo 'scuse me, Mrs May, can I have my country back? R.I.P.

    Check with the CAB?
  10. cesare

    cesare don't mourn, organise!

    They can't legally get access to her medical records. What they can do is try and obtain permission for a medical report, if she has a condition that affects her ability to do her job e.g. problems with attendance. If she has a long term mental health problem such as depression, they would also be obliged to make whatever reasonable adjustments are practicable.

    The downside of not declaring a disability is that the employer is not obliged to take a disability into account if they don't know about it.

    So there's pros and cons for her to weigh up.
  11. equationgirl

    equationgirl Do you believe you can walk on water?

    When I became seriously ill 6 weeks after starting a new job, and was ill for a few months, my then boss tried to terminate my contract on the grounds that I was 'unreliable'. As I has disclosed my longstanding health problems on the medical form, I was protected under the DDA and HR informed her that she couldn't.

    There are definite pros and cons to it, but on the whole I would say declare it.
    zippyRN, cesare, Greebo and 1 other person like this.
  12. astral

    astral author unknown

    I suffered from severe depression in my late teens, early 20s with a brief relapse in my mid 20s. I have never disclosed this on a medical, because I am worried about being discriminated against because of something that is (and has been for the last five years) a non issue. I work in an old fashioned, male dominated environment.

    If any of my employers care to look at my arms they'll have a fair idea that I had some issues at some point, but because I feel my illness is under control and actively managed I don't feel the need to share it with them. But I also accept that I am not protected under the DDA for having an existing condition.

    I am not advocating this as the best route obviously.
  13. equationgirl

    equationgirl Do you believe you can walk on water?

    Just because she has a relapse it doesn't legally entitle her employers to the medical records, as cesare has said employers may request a medical report from the GP, but even that is usually reviewed by the patient before it goes to the employer.
    cesare and Greebo like this.
  14. zippyRN

    zippyRN Orange, Fuzzy, and allowed to possess Cat As

    now the question is where is the medical form going ...

    if it's going to occy health then completing it is a very very good idea.

    hopefully most employers are now wise to the fact that line management cannot ask too much about health and this should be left to HR to pass on to Occy health.

    as equationgirl mentions in her reply full and frank disclosure to occy health can literally be a job saver.

    and deciding what is materially relevant is a job for Occy health, perhaps people are getting confused with fitness / health requirements which are 'genuine occupational requirements' ...
  15. equationgirl

    equationgirl Do you believe you can walk on water?

    Had I listened to my mother, who strongly advocated not telling them, I would have lost my job.

    My form went to Occupational Health, who did a phone interview with me and wrote a report declaring me fit for work before I took up my position. When I became seriously ill, I was referred to Occupational Health for reviews during my recovery. I saw two doctors and when my then boss demanded guarantees that I would never be ill again, they very politely told her it was impossible to predict when or if a relapse would happen, that I might never have a relapse again or I would relapse a lot, but I was doing everything I could to recover.

    It didn't stop her from keeping me on probation for a year whilst I was recovering - a fact which I am certain gave rise to stress which hampered my recovery. HR were quite supportive but had to be told that their process for managing absence due to chronic illness could be viewed as not compliant with the Equality Act. They did change this, however.

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