Do I have to tell my employer about my medical history?

Ultimately, it’s your choice. However, it may not be in your best interests if you decide not to. You should therefore think about it carefully before you decide.

Medical reports about you

The Access to Medical Reports Act 1988 states that your employer cannot ask your GP for a medical report on you without your knowledge and consent. You do not have to give your consent. If you do agree, you can ask to see the doctor’s report before it is sent to your employer. Your doctor must wait 21 days before sending it, so you have time to see the document.

You may ask, in writing, for the report to be amended if you feel it is incorrect or misleading. Your doctor can agree to amend the report. If they don’t agree, they must attach a note of your views and explain why they won't change it.

If you’re still unhappy with the report, you have the right to stop it being sent to your employer.

However, if you stop a medical report being sent to a new employer, they may not be able to employ you for a number of reasons – for example, if an occupational health assessment is part of their recruitment procedure.

Equality Act

The Equality Act ensures that employers cannot discriminate against people who are disabled, including job applicants, contract workers and existing employees. Your employer cannot treat you differently from other employees.

If an employer asks you about your disability, not being honest could cause problems. If you tell your employer, they have a duty to make reasonable adjustments at your workplace so you’re not at a disadvantage to other employees. Examples of reasonable adjustments include:

  • making adjustments to the buildings where you work 
  • being flexible about your hours
  • providing modified equipment

If you don’t tell your employer, they may not be able to help you do your job to the best of your abilities. If you have trouble in your job or you’re treated unfavourably, you may find it harder to solve the problem or make a formal complaint as your employer can say they didn't know about your disability.

When can an employer ask questions about health or disability?

An employer can ask questions about health or disability when:

  • they are trying to find out if you need reasonable adjustments for the recruitment process, such as for an assessment or an interview
  • they are trying find out if you (whether you are a disabled person or not) can take part in an assessment as part of the recruitment process, including questions about reasonable adjustments for this purpose
  • they are asking the questions for monitoring purposes
  • they want to make sure that any applicant who is disabled can benefit from any measures aimed at improving disabled people’s employment rates, such as the guaranteed interview scheme
  • where the questions relate to a requirement to vet applicants for the purposes of national security
  • where the question relates to a person’s ability to carry out a function that is absolutely fundamental to that job

Read the answers to more questions about workplace health.

Further information:

Page last reviewed: 13/02/2013

Next review due: 12/02/2015