There are rules in place to prevent an employer asking you certain questions during the application or interview process.
Can I be asked about my health? I have a disability.
In general, no. You should not be asked about health or any disability related questions – either at interview stage or on an application form – including how many days’ sickness you had in your previous employment. This is unlawful under the Equality Act 2010.
You can be asked about your ability to carry out a function which is essential to the role that you are applying for. If you have a disability that could impact on your ability to do the role, your employer should consider whether you can still do it with the help of reasonable adjustments.
Questions about your health can be made after you have been offered the job – not at interview and only to ensure that there are no obstacles to being able to carry out the role, and to address whether reasonable adjustments are necessary. Your employer should not ask for a medical report on you without your knowledge or consent.
Employers are allowed to ask questions about your health or disability at interview or before offering you the position – but only to monitor the diversity of applicants. They can also ask to establish if you’re able to benefit from positive action measures the employer has in place – like a guaranteed interview scheme or where the job requires someone to have a particular disability.
Can I be asked my age?
No – it is unlawful. Some employers may try to get round this by asking an older applicants at an interview how long they see themselves working for until retirement, but this too would be unlawful. You can find out more about age discrimination here.
Can I be asked if I’m married?
Employers should avoid asking you questions about your marital status, whether you have children, or are planning a family.
I have been asked about my race?
If a prospective employer asks where you were born, your race, first language, or religious views, it could be unlawful discrimination if this were why you were not offered the position after the interview.
I have a criminal conviction. Do they need to know?
The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act allows most convictions and all cautions, reprimands and final warnings to be considered ‘spent’ after a certain rehabilitation period. How long this period is depends on the sentence or warning you receive.
The Act gives people with spent convictions, cautions, reprimands and final warnings the legal right not to have to disclose them when applying for jobs.
It is against the law for an employer to obtain information about your spent cautions or convictions unless legislation specifically allows it. Some jobs will be exempt from the Act. If you apply for one of these jobs, an employer is entitled to request details to take this information into account when determining your suitability for the role.
Can I be disciplined because I have applied for a job somewhere else?
You are entitled to look for a job and you cannot generally be disciplined for doing so. It is certainly not a fair reason for dismissal.
If your performance at work is suffering because your attention is distracted, and you no longer have interest in what you are doing, you could be disciplined on capability grounds or put on a plan to improve your performance.
Using work computers in your search for a new role could amount to a breach of your employer’s IT policy. Even if you are conducting your search during lunchtimes and after work hours, the fact that you are using work computers and telephones in your job search puts you at risk of disciplinary action.
Does my employer have to agree to let me have time off for interviews?
Not usually. You may need to take the time off as part of your annual leave.
There is an exception in the case of redundancy. You are entitled to be paid for reasonable time off during your notice period to look for another job, provided that you have been continuously employed for 2 years by the date your notice expires.
What is ‘reasonable’ depends on your circumstances, including where you live, the type of work you do and how far you are willing to travel for that work. If your employer refuses to allow you to take time off for this purpose or does not pay you, you could bring a claim in the Employment Tribunal.
I am being unfairly treated. What now?
This is where we come in. Employment law is all we do.
Whether you want to take the initiative or if you are asked to leave, it can often feel that your employer holds all the power. They will likely have experienced HR professionals or a solicitor working in the background. That’s why you need the best support and advice available. You need a specialist employment lawyer – one who will push for the best deal possible in negotiating an exit.
We understand how it feels. We have helped hundreds of employees and because we act for businesses too, we know the tactics you’re likely to face from your employer. We know every trick in the book.
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