Health Questionnaire

An offer of employment can sometimes be subject to undertaking health questionnaires and assessments. It is important to address the questions and provide the relevant health information required, provided a clear statement is made available outlining the reason for the collection of the information and how the information will be used by the organisation. The information should be presented in a clear and concise manner and relevant to the questions asked in the health questionnaire or assessment. It is not relevant to discuss or write a long history of the disability, nor any other personal information.

Health questionnaires and assessments may be a standard procedure implemented by certain organisations for all employees. These procedures should only be implemented if the organisation has conducted a health analysis of each position of employment. If health questionnaires and assessments are conducted without a health analysis of each position, this may be deemed unlawful discrimination.

Health questionnaires can be presented at a job interview or when the position of employment is offered. Health assessments tend to occur when the position of employment has been offered and the offer is conditional on the outcome of the assessment.

Health questionnaires and assessments may ask specific disability questions. These questions can be asked, provided it is for a legitimate purpose and that the health questionnaire and assessment are a reasonable way to achieve that purpose.

The purpose of health questionnaires and assessments is to:

  • identify whether the chosen applicants can meet the inherent health requirements of the position of employment if required
  • help the employer and applicant to identify any work related adjustments that may be required and to make a recommendation.

Pre-employment medical information sought either by medical examination or questioning should be tailored to identify only those conditions essential to satisfactory performance of the inherent requirements of the position. Evidence of a disability is an inadequate ground for not appointing someone, unless it can be demonstrated that the disability limits the satisfactory performance of the inherent (health) requirements of the position.

It is important for an employee with a disability to obtain this information before deciding to disclose disability information on any medical forms. The statement should provide sufficient information for the employee to know to whom they are going to disclose to and how the information will be used within the organisation.

The requirements for organisations to inform employees about the collection of personal information is fully set out in the Federal Privacy Act National Privacy Principles (for private organisations) or the Information Privacy Principles (Federal and ACT government organisations) or relevant state privacy legislation. Refer to the Privacy Act (1988) (opens in a new window) or the Privacy (opens in a new window) website.

Employees may have a choice as to whether disclosure should occur on health questionnaires and/or assessments. However, this choice may be limited when:

  • health assessments are a standard organisational procedure and therefore part of the condition of offer. All potential employees would therefore be required to complete this procedure if they wished to fulfil the conditions of offer and accept the position of employment where a health assessment is required
  • an applicant is not truthful in disclosing required information on the health questionnaires and assessment, this may breach their employment contract, and affect the employee's rights under any superannuation, insurance or workers compensation entitlements that the employee or employer may have
  • fulfil the organisational requirement for all prospective employees to attend a health assessment in order to obtain a formal offer of employment
  • enable work related adjustments to be identified and implemented
  • have their disability information placed on record should future work related adjustments be required.

An employee may not be required to disclose their disability on a health questionnaire and/or assessment because:

  • they can meet the inherent requirements of the position without having to disclose their disability
  • their disability may be in remission and therefore not considered relevant to the process
  • disability information may not be requested on the questionnaire or in the assessment.

A health examination should only be performed by a qualified health assessment provider.