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Q: We need to recruit a warehouse operative and obviously need to be sure that he has no back problems and is able to lift and move heavy boxes. What are we able to ask him during the interview? A: The Equality Act 2010 prevents employers from sending out medical questionnaires on general health and medication issues prior to interviews and makes it unlawful to ask any questions about a job applicant’s health or disability until they have either been offered the job or put into a pool of successful candidates for a role. There are however exceptions to his rule in specific situations. It is acceptable and will not be unlawful for an employer to ask relevant questions to ascertain whether or not a candidate would be able to carry out the specific components of the role. A warehouse operative would be required to lift and move heavy boxes as a significant part of the role and in this case it would be permissible to ask questions about their health to ensure that they are able to do the job. Questions should be limited however to those that focus specifically on the functions of the job. Great care should be taken in your questioning otherwise you face a potential claim for unlawful discrimination on the grounds of disability or even action against you from the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

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