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Employee pre-existing medical conditions and recruitment

So…you’re a cautious employer and recognise all recruitment carries an element of risk. You decide your interview process should include a question around disclosure of employee pre-existing medical conditions. But what can you ask?

Let’s check out some legislation first.

The Workers’ Compensation Rehabilitation & Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2013 was passed in October 2013. Significant changes were made to the Queensland Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003 (Qld) (WCR Act 2003) allowing a prospective employer to:
1. request a prospective worker to disclose pre-existing injuries or medical conditions; and
2. ask the Workers’ Compensation Regulator for a copy of a prospective worker’s claims history.

This entitlement applies to the employment process in selecting a prospective worker for employment.

It’s permissible to ask an applicant whether they have a medical condition. Framing your question in a manner such as:
Do you have any pre-existing injury, medical condition or disability that could reasonably be expected to be aggravated by performing the employment related duties of this position?
demonstrates the information you seek is directly relevant to the employee’s capacity to perform the duties required in the role.

Should the applicant answer yes, follow up questions might revolve around what the condition is, whether there are current restrictions on the applicant’s ability to perform the job and how the employer might reasonably accommodate these restrictions to enable the applicant to do this type of work.

If you have such a process in place, you may also inform the candidate part of your standard offer of employment paperwork is the requirement of disclosure of any pre-existing condition in writing.

It’s important to exercise caution when questioning around prospective employee pre-existing medical conditions. While an employer has the right to enquire, it’s relevant to think carefully if and when to request such information. Probing into irrelevant medical history could indicate an intention to discriminate and this could be unlawful. You should only ask for information which is relevant to the duties required in the role.

Need more info? The Anti-Discrimination Commission Queensland is committed to assisting employers understand their rights and responsibilities. The ADCQ website contains resources for employers, including employer rights and responsibilities and an employer’s toolkit.

Bare Bones Consulting is also available to help you with your recruitment process. We’re not a recruitment agency; we specialise in showing employers how to recruit like the professionals – attracting the best people, guiding your interview process and hiring the right person first time. And that’s money in your pocket, not an agency’s!

Find out more here.

  • PO Box 3956,
    Burleigh Town 4220,
  • 07 5576 4693
  • 0401 279 065
  • Bare Bones Consulting

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Note: Bare Bones Consulting provides HR services for employers. Employees seeking advice on workplace concerns should contact the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94.