Disability and children questions at an interview

(16 Posts)
Savannahuk Fri 22-Nov-19 19:45:45

Is it illegal to ask why you are a wheelchair user at an interview and to be asked if you have children? What's the best way to answer such questions and how do others feel about these questions?

OP’s posts: |
Highandlow Fri 22-Nov-19 20:28:05

Tricky one. I thought employers weren’t able to act any specifics about conditions. As for kids, I believe they aren’t able to act if you have any plans to have kids etc. Hopefully someone will come along with employment. law knowledge. Personally I think they are a bit much to ask at interview, seems intrusive to me .

Highandlow Fri 22-Nov-19 20:28:28


flowery Fri 22-Nov-19 20:43:23

There is no list of questions employers aren’t “allowed” to ask- that’s a myth. It is, however, unlawful to discriminate, and any employer who asks questions relating to protected characteristics really should make sure those questions are absolutely necessary, because asking in the first place is a bit of a red flag and means a decision is more likely to be challenged, and that they don’t discriminate based on the answers.

There isn’t any justification I can think of for asking about children. It’s not against the law to ask, as long as they ask everyone, not just women, and as long as they don’t take the answer into account. But if they ask everyone and can’t take it into account, you’ve got to wonder at their motives for asking.

As to enquiring about health conditions, again I struggle to come up with a justification, unless the nature of the role means that some conditions that might put someone in a wheelchair might make it impossible to do the job in question but others wouldn’t . Seems unlikely.

CmdrCressidaDuck Fri 22-Nov-19 20:49:36

It is not illegal to ask these questions. What is illegal is to make decisions based on the answers, so any switched-on employer who takes seriously their legal responsibilities wouldn't ask, or would make very very clear their reasons for asking.

It takes some sangfroid, but I would suggest replying with a polite smile and a cheery "I'm not sure how that's relevant..?" And if they push it, "Given that we all want to comply with employment law, it's best not to discuss these things at this stage, don't you think?" with another smile.

If you have other options, I would also write them off as an employer, because it's a major red flag. I realise it's not always that easy though.

Cornish2 Fri 22-Nov-19 21:01:58

When it comes to children if you have a gap in your cv where you took time out to have a family you have to give reasons for that gap you can't really answer that with none of your business, and I have found in the past that usually leads to questions such as what arrangements can you make for childcare at short notice and how flexible are you.
With disabilities it helps if an employer knows any restrictions you may have in a particular role so they can have extra needs met for you not necessarily prejudice.

CmdrCressidaDuck Fri 22-Nov-19 21:08:02

When it comes to children if you have a gap in your cv where you took time out to have a family you have to give reasons for that gap you can't really answer that with none of your business, and I have found in the past that usually leads to questions such as what arrangements can you make for childcare at short notice and how flexible are you.

It's fine just to say "I took some time out to care for family" and no more. "How flexible are you/what hours can you do" is a reasonable question, but questions about your childcare arrangements are not, and I'd say "I have that covered, thanks". You can answer if you like, but you are inviting them to discriminate against you, and even if they had the best of intentions (spoiler, they don't) it's very hard not to weight information once you have it. Which is why talk about children doesn't belong in a hiring process.

CmdrCressidaDuck Fri 22-Nov-19 21:09:59

Oh, and re your second point, if you have a declared disability a company can absolutely ask about suitable accomodations, but it's not acceptable to ask why you are in a wheelchair. It is not relevant and none of their business.

What specifically you can do and not do and any helpful accommodations: relevant to your candidacy for a role
How you came to be a wheelchair user: not in any way relevant.

Savannahuk Fri 22-Nov-19 21:16:11

Hi thanks for answering
It's an office job which would not entail any physical labor. They also asked if I would need to attend lots of hospital appointments (is this acceptable?) it's hard enough going to interviews with a disability without being asked such questions.

Would they have asked an able-bodied person or a male these questions? I think not

OP’s posts: |
Savannahuk Fri 22-Nov-19 21:16:56

And there is no gaps in my cv

OP’s posts: |
username2020 Fri 22-Nov-19 23:27:08

that's unacceptable OP and you should complain but the difficulty, as I know myself being disabled, is proving that it happened. Have you received the outcome of your application yet?

daisychain01 Sat 23-Nov-19 05:08:48

@Savannahuk from everything you've posted, I presume this situation has arisen from an interview and you're waiting for the result,

I would avoid the organisation like the plague. They sound at best clumsy, and at worst inept and clueless as regards how they've approached their line of enquiry. The questions they asked you speak volumes - they can't cope with the realities of supporting real people in the workplace and actually can only deal with robots. Their loss.

You'll be dodging a bullet if you look elsewhere. There are organisations ready to take you on for your skills and talents, as evidenced by the fact you have no gaps in your CV.

Savannahuk Sat 23-Nov-19 21:16:16

@username2020 I've not had the outcome yet but I feel like writting to HR to explain what happened and tell them to sod their job.

Perhaps I should record my upcoming interviews?

@daisychain01 It's very disheartening & very disappointing that it's the NHS (completely been put off by the NHS). I've had years of discrimination in my current NHS job too.

I've applied for a few non-NHS jobs today

OP’s posts: |
username2020 Sat 23-Nov-19 21:54:56

no law against recording interviews (employment tribunals have allowed it) so I don't see why not.

daisychain01 Sun 24-Nov-19 08:06:04

There is no explicit law against recordings, but an ET judge has the ability to decide whether or not to use recordings as part of the court bundle. Just be mindful not to place too much store on that above other evidence.

shushymcshush Wed 27-Nov-19 23:00:49

They shouldn't ask if you need to attend lots of hospital appointments. Reason being is that its irrelevant. It sounds as if they are being very biased, seen you in a wheelchair and thought "going to be hard work, bet always needs time off and we'll have to cover for them".

A person not in a wheelchair might need more hospital appointments than you, but the question wouldn't come up.

Agree with @daisychain01. They are at best misguided in what they think they can ask or at worst prejudiced horror bags. Would probably be very unpleasant to work for.

I'm sorry this has happened to you. But there are employers out there who are very "enlightened" shall we say and will actively encourage and consider all applicants and all circumstances, so please don't lose heart flowers

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