Ill Health Disclosure

As a careers advisor one question I am frequently asked is how to explain gaps in employment. For people with mental health problems this can be challenging. Some people have concerns as to whether disclosing their health will impact their job prospects. Others would prefer to keep details of their health private, but worry about the legalities of not disclosing.

So what are the legalities?

The Equality Act (2010) protects disabled people from discrimination in the recruitment process. The Act makes it unlawful for employers to ask job applicants questions about disability or health before making a job offer, except in specified circumstances. This aims to prevent employers screening potential employees to avoid recruiting disabled people.

Once a job offer is in place you are only required to disclose your health if your employer asks; if you are not asked you do not have to disclose (The Employment Rights Act, 2002)

Should you disclose your health?

Disclosing your health is a personal choice.

Advantages

  • The employer may view you as being more honest because you have explained your situation.
  • It may explain some of the gaps in your CV or application.
  • You will not need to worry that the employer may find out at a later date, leading to disciplinary action or dismissal (or at least loss of trust)
  • You will not have to worry that someone else might tell the employer about your situation.
  • You will be able to attend medical appointments openly
  • Your employer and colleagues may be able to offer you support

Disadvantages

  • The employer may have concerns about your ability to do the job
  • You may find it difficult to tell the employer about your situation
  • You may be worried that your employer may not respect your confidentiality

How would you disclose?

  1. Be brief – concentrate on showcasing your skills, experience, qualifications and personal qualities
  2. Be positive – what strengths do you have as a result of experiencing and/or recovering from mental ill health? Good self-reflection skills? Resilience? Empathy for others?
  3. Finish on a high – during any periods out of work what achievements/experiences have you had? Volunteering? Training? Travel? Research and reading? Self-reflection?

 

When could you disclose?

On a Job Application Form

On a Job Application, in answer to the question “Do you have any health problems?”

Possible responses:

  • Not that would affect my ability to do the job
  • I will discuss this at an interview
  • Not applicable to this job
  • I previously had ________which I have now recovered from and I do not feel that this will affect my work performance
  • I have a health condition but I feel I will still be able to do the job as required
  • Leave it blank and explain verbally in a job interview if required
  • Do not say ‘no’ if the answer is ‘yes’

At an interview or after the job has been offered

Choose an appropriate time to talk when you feel comfortable. The emphasis should be on your skills, motivation and commitment to do the job.

You can prepare a disclosure statement in advance. You can use this at any stage, you choose, during the application process and after the job has been offered.

Here are some examples of disclosure statements:

I have been out of work for health reasons. During this time I have focused on my recovery, studying, volunteering. I am now ready to work.

 

I have experienced anxiety, which has given me a better understanding of myself, and more empathy for others who may experience similar situations.

 

I recently took some time out of work due to ill health. I am now well and have learned how to manage stress and ways of coping.

 

If you would like to speak to a Careers Adviser about your disclosure statement, or would like any other advice around your career goals, you can call us on 0800 100 900.

-Lauren, Careers Adviser

Searching for Jobs

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Job searching… what is the first thing that comes to mind when I say it?! Frustrating, disheartening, confusing? All of the above? I know, I have been there myself. Whether you are looking for a career change, a quick fix or keeping up to date with the industry, hopefully my top tips will calm your nerves and help you make the most of what tools are at your disposal.

We all know that employers spruce up job titles to make them sound more appealing, but sometimes from the onset we have no idea what the job involves. If we don’t look further into the role we might be missing out on our dream job.

When you’re job searching, if you use the ‘keyword’ tab rather than the ‘job title’ tab, this will scan the job description and will look for your keywords. So for example, if you’re looking for something sports related by typing in the word ‘sport’ it will bring up jobs that are associated with it, so it could be things like facilities manager etc.

Knowing who your local employers are, that offer you the opportunities that you are seeking, will also be key to your job searching success. Most companies that you come across will have a section on their website where you will be able to gain information on any current recruitment. Find out who the top employers are who could potentially recruit in your industry and 1) search on their websites, 2) like them on social media and 3) connect with them on LinkedIn. By doing this you will be constantly keeping yourself in the know!

If you, or anyone you know, would like extra support around job searching please call us today on 0800 100 900.

-Kate, Careers Adviser