In my opinion,
YES – IF the issues affect your production or if workplaces changes are needed to accommodate them.
If this is not the case and you are pressed, I’d suggest politely replying with
“To the best of my knowledge I have no heath issues that will affect my work performance in this role.”
The employer needs to create a safe workplace for you. They can’t legally discriminate against you, but if they do, you should ask yourself “Do I really want to work for them?”
From my research with several Australian lawyers, the employer is allowed to ask you about your health disabilities in the interview. The employer must create a safe workplace for you and has a responsibility to reduce expenditures associated with lost productivity, sickness absence, and staff turnover associated with employee illness.
My advice would be to point the employer to past evidence where you can show that your productivity was not affected.
If you can show that that your mental health condition does not affect your ability to do your job and/or that you do not need any adjustments to your workload or schedule, then there is no legal reason to bring it up in the hiring process.
Beyond Blue’s Heads Up website has the following suggestions.
Some reasons not to tell your potential employer are:
- You might be worried about potential discrimination, harassment or reduced opportunities for career progression.
- For some people, the mental health condition may pass but the label and associated stigma can be permanent.
- Some employers fail to provide an appropriate level of support or follow legislative requirements.
- You might already have adequate support networks outside the workplace and feel there’s not much to gain by talking about your condition.
Some reason to tell your potential employer include:
- Is your mental health condition affecting your ability to perform your role safely? You could be putting your safety and the safety of others in danger.
- Discussing your condition gives you and your employer an opportunity to talk about any support or changes you might need to help you stay at work and/or assist your recovery.
- Making adjustments to your schedule or workload can reduce the number of sick days you need and help you be more productive when you’re at work.
- By sharing your experiences, you’re helping to change people’s attitudes, and it may mean others open up or seek support about their own struggles.
- Being open with your workmates can help to avoid rumours or gossip.
- If your performance or productivity has changed, telling your workmates means they’re more likely to be understanding.
- If you need to make a formal disability discrimination complaint at a later date, telling your employer helps to protect your rights.
- Your employer may be able to provide you with support if they are aware of your condition. Otherwise, they may misinterpret a change in your behaviour as a performance issue.
- Put yourself in your workmate’s shoes – if they were struggling, you would want them to trust and confide in you.
Fairwork Australia and the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 tells us that employers must not discriminate against job applicants or employees because of physical or mental disabilities. They also state that if an employer is aware of an employee’s disability, legally they must provide what is regarded as ‘reasonable adjustment’ to accommodate the needs of their employee.
“Reasonable adjustments” let an employee with a disability to safely perform the essential requirements of their job. Reasonable adjustments include changes to premises, facilities, equipment, work practices or training that could help a person with disability do a job. If reasonable adjustments are required to help an employee with disability to do his or her job, the employer’s costs may be covered by the Employment Assistance Fund.
Workcover notification forms
Some employers ask on their employment contract if you have an illness, injury or disability which may be adversely affected by or during your employment. If you do not make the employer aware, the employer is unable to provide a safe environment for you. If you have hidden the fact and you get an injury, it may be that you wont be able to claim Workcover.
Some employees have a medical assessment as part of their hiring process, especially where a drug and alcohol-free environment is required.
Owen Hodge lawyers advises that whether requiring a medical test for work is appropriate or not is going to depend upon the specific circumstances of the job you are offering, and the employee’s current situation.
There are certain situations in which there is a lawful basis for employers to submit a pre-employment medical check-up letter. In these scenarios, it is acceptable – even advisable – for an employer to ask a potential or current worker to see a medical practitioner for an examination. These include:
- To determine the employee is able to perform the job duties that are an essential part of the job he/she is being hired to do.
- To understand the nature and extent of a current/potential employee’s disability in order to understand what accommodations an employer must provide so the worker is able to complete job tasks.
- To identify current or future risks to the health and safety of the applicant or employee in order to establish appropriate risk prevention measures and to comply with duties under occupational health and safety laws.
- To reduce expenditures associated with lost productivity, sickness absence, and staff turnover associated with employee illness.
- To determine superannuation entitlements and insurance coverage.
- After an employee has experienced a significant absence from work due to a health condition and then fails to provide appropriate medical documentation approving their return to work.
Whether you choose to tell others can depend on how much your condition affects your role, the amount of support you have outside the workplace and your relationships with your workmates.