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Discrimination at work

Some of us experience disability discrimination at work because of our mental health. Find out about the laws that protect us from discrimination, plus where to go for support and advice.

Can employers ask about my mental health when I apply for a job?

When you're applying for a job, employers can't generally ask you questions about your mental health before they make a job offer:

Example of an unlawful question when applying for a job

Benny has schizophrenia. He is applying for a job as a shop manager. In the initial stage, the recruiter asks Benny if he has any history of mental health problems.

The recruiter has acted unlawfully by asking Benny health questions in the recruitment process. Benny does not need to answer this question. But if he does choose to answer it, our advice would be that he should answer honestly.

Can employers ask about my health before a job offer?

In some situations, an employer is allowed to ask you questions about your health before they make a job offer.

For example, they can ask in order to:

  • Find out whether you'll be able to take an assessment for the job.
  • Find out whether you need reasonable adjustments in the application process.
  • Find out whether you'll be able to do tasks that are required for the role – but they should also consider any reasonable adjustments.
  • Confirm that they're receiving job applications from a diverse range of people.
  • Confirm that you have the particular disability required for the job. For example, an employer hiring for a project for people with type 1 diabetes, may want someone with type 1 diabetes to run it.
  • Assess you for national security purposes. For example, you might apply for a job in government which involves handling highly sensitive information. The employer could ask you any type of health questions during recruitment, for the purpose of security.

Lawful and unlawful questions before a job offer

  • Lawful – An employer is recruiting and sends out an application form that says, ‘Please contact us if you are disabled and need any adjustments for the interview’.
  • Lawful – An employer is recruiting employees to put up scaffolding. In their application form, they ask relevant questions about disability, health and whether the applicant has a fear of heights.
  • Unlawful – Ayo is applying for a job as an advice worker. During his interview, he is asked about his mental health history.

What questions can employers ask after they offer me the job?

If you're successful in your job application, the employer can then ask you about your health.

In some cases, after asking questions about your health, the employer might be concerned that your health may affect your ability to perform the job. If so, they should seek more information or advice from occupational health or your doctor.

It may be direct discrimination if both of these terms are met:

  • Your job offer is taken away when you explain your mental health problems
  • The offer was taken away without further assessment or investigation

This information was published in November 2022. We will revise it in 2025.

References are available on request. If you would like to reproduce any of this information, see our page on permissions and licensing.

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