Advice line - To disclose or not? Health conditions and applying for jobs

Saraka Keating looks at the awkward issue of disclosing health conditions when applying for jobs

In what feels like an ever more competitive job market the question to disclose or not to disclose a health condition can often arise.

If you have a disability there is no obligation on you to disclose, the decision is yours to make and cannot be forced from you.  

However there are some things to consider before you make your decision.

Under the Equality Act 2010 (Disability Discrimination Act if you are applying for a job in Northern Ireland), it is unlawful for employers to discriminate against people with disabilities. This applies not just once you are in post but also during the recruitment and selection process.

A key element of both acts is the requirement for employers to make reasonable adjustments – not only once you are in post but also during the recruitment process.

However, the obligation to make a reasonable adjustment only applies if the employer is aware (or could reasonably have been aware) that you have a disability.

So you may want to consider if your disability will place you at a disadvantage at the interview process and you are aware of an adjustment that would allow you to be placed on an equal footing with other candidates then it may be advisable to disclose at this point in time.

If, for example, in order to be shortlisted for interview you have to complete a short written exam and you have dyslexia you may require more time for the exam than is allocated so not disclosing your condition could place you at a disadvantage that would be easily remedied.

If, however, you feel that your disability is unlikely to have any impact on your ability to participate equally in the interview process then you may decide not to disclose.

If you do decide to disclose at the point of application you can ask your prospective employer to treat that information as confidential.

For further information, see Information Paper 37, Disability Discrimination – The Law.

Saraka Keating is a research and policy officer in the CSP’s employment relations and union services unit

Saraka Keating

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