Pre-placement health screening
Aka: “Pre-employment screening”, “New starter health questionnaires”.
1. Key features.
Diligently performed by qualified and experienced Occupational Health Specialist Practitioners, alert to implicit and well as explicit needs for adjustments. It is not a paper processing exercise!
Questionnaire based to minimise administrative overhead and impact on the speed to recruit.
A structured document workflow generates an audit trail of evidence that you have demonstrated your duty of care to identify and control for work related health, safety and welfare risks associated with employing your new starter.
2. Step by step guide.
Click on a step below to view more detail.
Pre-placement health screening helps minimise the risk of :
- Employing someone who’s health prevents them from performing a fundamental or intrinsic requirement of the job, even with adjustments. Examples might include a Scaffolder with a disability which renders them unable to climb a ladder or an HGV driver who has un-correctable impaired vision.
- Breaching your legal obligations to identify and control for risks to your new starter’s health, safety and welfare, including the implementation of reasonable adjustments. For further information, click here to read Occupational Health Law and Best Practice.
You can usefully health screen any new starter:
- Around 1% may have a health condition which prevents them from performing intrinsic requirements of the job.
- More than 10% are likely to require some form of adjustment.
You should certainly screen new starters where their job places higher demands upon their physical and / or mental health or exposes them to greater physical and / or mental health risks.
If you decide to screen, we will use a pre-placement health screening questionnaire (a Microsoft Word document or Google Doc) to obtain the information we need from your new starter. We will carefully design the questionnaire to capture the minimum necessary information to identify health conditions which could:
- Prevent someone from performing the intrinsic requirements of the job.
- Affect your new starter’s capability to perform a job function.
- Be aggravated by a job function. For example, a questionnaire for a job involving baking, painting or insulating may include questions about sensitivities to respiratory irritants and asthmagens.
- Pose a risk to the health and safety of other colleagues, customers and the public.
We’ll guide you through a sequence of questions to help us understand the job and consequently design the questionnaire for your approval. We have a library of “default” questionnaires from which we can select and amend based upon the specific requirements of the job you are recruiting for.
You will email the questionnaire (together with our guide to completion) to your new starter together with the offer letter or shortly afterwards.
Your new starter will complete the questionnaire, password protect it and return it directly to Work Wellness.
The completed questionnaire is processed in accordance with the Access to Medical Records Act. For example, it would be filed by ourselves and not disclosed to yourself.
The questionnaire responses are carefully assessed by a qualified OH Specialist Practitioner. Their experience enables them to recognise ambiguous / evasive responses potentially masking a significant health condition which needs to be clarified with your new starter. This is certainly not an in-tray exercise carried out by an OH technician or admin assistant.
Where a response is not provided, is unclear, ambiguous or may imply a health condition then we will follow-up with your new starter to obtain clarification.
Normally, within 3 working days of receiving a questionnaire, we will report back to you to say that your new starter:
- Has declared no health conditions which affect the recruitment and induction process. They are “certified” as capable of performing the job without adjustments.
- Has been asked to clarify a response. We will normally report back to you within 3 working days of receiving clarification.
- Has declared one or more health conditions and that we recommend an Occupational Health Assessment to more fully understand the condition and recommend adjustments to enable them to perform to the best of their capability and without further aggravating the condition.
- Has declared one or more health conditions which renders them incapable of performing an intrinsic requirement of the job. You would then withdraw your conditional offer of employment.
3. Why invest.
Protect. The costs of getting it wrong:
Failure to make reasonable adjustments. According to the Labour Force Survey, 20% of working age adults have a disability of whom 50% are in employment, so on average, at least 10% of new starters are likely to require job adjustments1.
Failure to identify an inability to perform the intrinsic requirements of the job. According to a 2018 survey of 1,647 disabled working age adults, 17% who had applied for a job in the past five years said a job offer was withdrawn because of their disability2. Ordinally, this suggests that some 1% of job offers are withdrawn annually because of an inability to perform an intrinsic requirement of the job.
Failure to comply / cost of compliance. Research for the Equality and Human Rights Commission3 found that:
- 30% of job candidates claim they were asked for health information in advance of a job offer being made and without a valid legal reason for doing so.
- 6% of SME employers admitted to asking for health information in advance of a job offer being made and without a valid legal reason for doing so. 54% of SMEs admitted to being unfamiliar with the legal requirements for requesting health information from job candidates.
Pre-placement health screening helps you to identify needs for job adjustments whilst complying with legal constraints on asking for health information.
- Disabled People in Employment. House of Commons Briefing Paper. Number 7540, 24 May 2021
- Leonard Cheshire Disability Survey. Employment Section. ComRes. 21st February. 2019
- Research report 87: Use of pre-employment health questionnaires by employers. Equality and Human Rights Commission. 2013.