Equalities Act


I am currently applying for jobs and to my surprise came across an application from at the British Lung Foundation the other day, which, on the first page had the questions:

Please provide details of any disability, major illness, chronic conditions and/or allergies you have that may affect your work and attendance. What provisions/special help would you need us to provide to enable you to do this job?

Please state the number of days you were absent from work, through illness in the last two years.


As soon as I saw that I thought well there's no point in applying. This is not allowed under the equalities act 2010 so I informed them last week and I just checked and it is still on there! I can't believe it! Particularly for a supposedly compassionate and charitable organisation!


Has anyone else come across such questions?



Hmmm.  I didn't think that was allowed either.

But I wonder what the score is if they wish to discriminate in favour of disabled people?

Given that it's a health-related charity (I think they're a charity?) I wonder if they actively seek to employ people with health problems, because they would bring something relevant to the job?  But in that case, they would need to know (for planning purposes) what sort of adjustments the person might need.  I still don't like the question about number of days off, as I can't think of a constructive reason a prospective employer would want or need to know that.  The other questions could be about wanting to promote diversity, and understand your needs, though.

Why not apply, just for the hell of it?  See what happens?

Incidentally, as an aside, "caring, sharing" organisations don't always come up trumps in the disability-friendly league.

I used to be an unpaid volunteer at the CAB.  They were politically correct to a fanatical degree, so you'd have thought they'd be a caring organisation to work for if there were problems, wouldn't you?

I missed several shifts, and eventually had to give up my volunteering activities altogether, due to my mysteriously declining health, which I now realise (but didn't then) was caused by MS.

They didn't give a sh!t about me, except that I hadn't turned up for work.  They never asked if I was OK, they never sent me a card, they never said they were sorry I was unwell, or expressed any concern.  I got the impression they thought I was a timewaster, who wasn't really ill, and didn't have the guts to admit she wanted to leave.


P.S. the "filtered word" was not as strong as the context might suggest.  Sometimes these substitutions make it look as if you said something worse than you did, don't they?letdown

I hadn't really thought about it before but the question about how many days sick always comes up on teaching application forms. 

Actually it might be asked of the person providing the reference. I've had to do quite a few references over recent years and always had to ask the secretary to trawl through school records for the data. 

I suppose asking about chronic conditions means they wouldn't be able to count absences due to the condition because of the DDA. Maybe it's to identify those that take odd days off when they maybe shouldn't!!

Sarah x


Positive discrimination is the same negative discrimination; I want only disabled people employed in my business but I am not allowed to advertise just for housebound people as that is discriminating against normal; healthy people.


You are correct it is illegal to ask any question about your health also they cannot ask about your sickness from previous employment.  The only question I think they could ask is something like “do you envisage being absent from work for any reason within the next year.”  Obviously you would answer NO; HOW DO YOU KNOW.



I've just realised my experience of refererence writing would have been pre-DDA. So just ignore what I wrote - it was a load of rubbish!



Thanks L. I will look into reporting them.

Spudz I understand where you are coming from and it is difficult for small employers and I think they should get support from the government. BUT, firstly, just because someone has had a lot of sick due to a relapse doesn't mean it will happen again soon as we all know how unpredictable MS is but the reality is that if an employer sees the condition on the form it will likely put them off. Secondly, there is a wider humanitarian issue at stake here. The disabled and ill healthed of society are currently under attack in society, again, as I am sure we are all too aware of; the tory tabloid press 'lazy benefit scroungers' etc and the government's policies to reduce the support available to people with health conditions and disabilities. If at the same time we don't support people in gaining employment through the chance to have their application judged independent of health issues etc, then what are the ill healthed/diabled of society mean't to do to survive? Personally I want to live in a civilised society.

Would like some advice. We have a 14 year old daughter with severe learning difficulties, I 'have' SPMS. I have worked, as a carer (still sort of mobile, only 'long term memory department' of my brain seems to operate properly..), of which the last half a year for a renowed institution for disabled young people. Although I did inform them about my condition, they seemed to assume that if I could still walk into their offices, and give the right bla bla answers with regard to 'Why do you think you are the right person for this job' etc etc etc etc ..... etc etc... then there should not be any (big) problems. Of course I did not tell them in detail about my fatigue/ bladder/ cognitive/ movement etc issues (just said I had MS and had had this for many years, as my lack of 'proper walking ability' is obvious) as this was still a job interview? Unfortunately I was more or less pushed into a corner after 'an incident' with one of the students, and this was truly raked up to get rid of me, this in spite of the assistance of a union rep (...) (I assume that they suddenly realised what they were dealing with! - Risk Assessments, Insurers!!). I had already been pushed out of a previous 3 year carers job because I questioned the shifts I had to work which were very unreasonable (this in spite of a union rep..., do you have the impression that 'we' are too labour intensive for unions under the present economical circumstances??), especially for a MSer WITH an unvolunteerily demanding disabled child at home. I have now made up my mind as I do not seem to get anywhere with 'my' DEA at the job centre..... I now want to be 'declared' unfit for work as it puts too much unnecessary extra strain upon my family!! I then hope to do some (allowed) volunteering work. I feel a bit more at home here as the previous writers must recognise the extra strain that comes with a disabled child. As I said, any advice or (positive) reaction would be welcome.

...sorry folks, the previous message should have been a reaction to 'Help for my 8 year old daughter please' in the 'Caring for someone with MS' section.... (well I did mention cognitive issues..), sorry!


I couldn't comment on whether or not this is illegal, but there's a phrase in there that's key for me:  " What provisions/special help would you need us to provide to enable you to do this job?"

I think that shows their motivation for asking, so they know how best they can helpand fulfill their obloigations under the DDA, not to discriminate against anyone. I remember hearing something on Radio 4 that was saying you shouldn't disclose anything when applying for a job, but once (if) you get the job offer you should then say about whatever condition you have as then they're obliged to make the reasonable adjustments, and if they withdrew the job offer then they're guilty of breaking the law.



To my knowledge this should be asked following the offer of  a job. You should then complete a health questinnaire which should be sent to an Occupational Health Dept.
Some private companies now only ask two or three questions and if you answer yes to any of them it will then be sent to OH for their assessment. I am suprised that they are asking this on an application even if it is post introduction of the Equality Act. Even under DDA this would have been a bit shadey and open to an employment tribunal I would have thought. They would have to have pretty strong evidence to prove you werent employed/offered a job because of your condition. Suprising that a medical company 

F I have been on here now..... sorry Dan, I think that you saying 'that shows their motivation for asking' is a bit over the top, as a) they are sort of legally bound to do so, and b) this is for them also a way to find out more about the (disabled) person that is applying.

Also, in case I would be in the position NOT having to disclose everything during an interview (although this is for example not possible with my kind of MS because of the way I move), I would feel like a cheat which would certainly not help me to 'relax in a new job'.

Anyway, that is my opinion based upon personal experiences.


The company I work for has a huge long form to fill in about your health.  With details of hospital appointments etc.

This is not part of the job application form, and is kept private so that only the HR people who make sure the company is living up to their legal obligations as far as our health and safety is concerned.  Usually you only get the form after you've been invited for an interview. I think.  It means they can make any reasonable adjustments needed.  

I didn't apply to the company for a job, the company I worked for was taken over by the one I'm talking about.  We were asked if we wanted to fill one in - I have no idea if anyone did!  I don't think I'd have carried on with the application if I'd been asked to fill one in.  I don't know if it's obligatory or optional.  Definitely very scary!

But the company I work for looks after it's employees very well.  I am on long-term sick being paid a decent percentage of my salary not statuary sick pay thanks to them paying for Permanent Health Insurance.