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Asking about days off sick in application form

Discussion in 'Independent' started by paddingtonabroad, Jan 21, 2016.

  1. paddingtonabroad

    paddingtonabroad New commenter

    Dear Theo

    I am applying for a job in an independent prep school. The application form asks how many days off sick applicants have had in the last 12 months. Until recently, I had had no days off sick for ten years but I am now recovering from a mastectomy and reconstructive surgery. It was caught extremely early so the prognosis is excellent and should not affect my teaching. How would you advise me to fill in this part of the form? Many thanks.
     
  2. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter

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    I do hope that you are now fully recovered.

    How much space is there on the form where this question is?

    Best wishes

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  3. paddingtonabroad

    paddingtonabroad New commenter

    There's a small box for 'Have you had any days off sick in the past 12 months?' and you have to delete Yes/No. Then there's another wider box which asks you to say how many days you have had off. There isn't enough room to explain about any illness as I have above.
     
  4. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter

    .

    In which case you will need to be honest, and include a brief sentence in the letter/statement. N.B. don't count weekends or holidays in the number of days.

    After an excellent record of attendance - not one day of absence in 10 years - last year I had surgery which required X days of absence. I am now completely recovered.

    Best wishes

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  5. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter

  6. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    .
    @paddingtonabroad

    It is illegal for any prospective employer to ask that question. Employers generally are prohibited by s60 Equality Act 2010 from asking about sickness records prior to making a job offer.

    http://www.equalityhumanrights.com/...th_questions_guidance_for_employers_final.pdf

    At,least, that's my understanding, @GLsghost may be able to confirm this.

    But what to do about it? Ignoring the question will probably just get it returned to you for an answer. Telling them the question is illegal will likley just result in you getting rejected out of hand for being a trouble-maker (although that's not the reason they'd give you!).

    I'd be tempted to give the true answer and if I didn't get the job report them to the EHRC for unlawful employment practices.
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    GLsghost likes this.
  7. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

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    A further thought @paddingtonabroad.

    I assume this a paper form, so even though they haven't left space to explain in the box there's nothing to stop you writing it in anyway. Write underneath the box "This was a single period of absence following an operation for .... " etc

    [Edit: Just noticed @TheoGriff has already advised this, apologies for duplicated advice :oops: ]
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    GLsghost likes this.
  8. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter

    .

    Ah yes.

    The Equality Act comes head-to-head with the school's obligation to ensure Fitness to Teach . . .

    I said at the time (2010) that this would cause problems, and I was right!

    A lawyer employed by ATL says:

    However, to say that asking questions about an employee's health at the recruitment stage is unlawful is not strictly true as there are a number of exceptions to the rule. For example, questions asked with the intention of establishing whether there is a need to make reasonable adjustments, for the purposes of monitoring diversity, and establishing whether an applicant will be able to carry out a function that is intrinsic to the job, will be permitted.

    She goes on to say:

    employers may argue that establishing an individual's fitness to teach is an intrinsic part of the job and therefore falls within one of the prescribed exceptions.

    https://www.atl.org.uk/publications-and-resources/report/2011/legal-fitness-to-teach.asp

    Best wishes

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