Is it now illegal to ask an employee why they were ill?!

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blobbyh
blobbyh Registered Posts: 2,415 Beyond epic contributor 🧙‍♂️
Just been informed that apparently "It's illegal for an employer to ask an employee why they were ill"! Is this the case, has it always been the case? I can appreciate privacy laws but actually outlawed entirely by cold legislation?

A new one on me and Google won't answer it either: most comments seem second hand and not entirely convincing. Could be a classic case of myth, hope and supposition being turned into hard fact so if this is in fact illegal, can someone please point me in the right direction where I can nail this down?

Thanks!

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  • kerryhill100
    kerryhill100 Registered Posts: 121 Dedicated contributor 🦉
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    I cannot give you a definitive answer but looking at it from a health and safety point of view sometimes it is necessary to know and understand why an employee has been absent. The cause of the absence could mean that an employee cannot carry out there job in a safe manor. Alot of employers carry out return to work interviews where the main questions revolve around why you were absent.

    I feel this is a myth created by skiving b*ggers who dont want to be asked difficult questions!!!
  • blobbyh
    blobbyh Registered Posts: 2,415 Beyond epic contributor 🧙‍♂️
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    Yep, I agree. I can't believe such an anti-employer piece of legislation exists as there are a host of reasons why it would be vital to legitimiately know a reason for absence, if only to discount certain things.

    I think it's BS too but currently trying to discuss this with one of those annoying buggers who knows everything about everything and won't have it that they could be mistaken over this!
  • kerryhill100
    kerryhill100 Registered Posts: 121 Dedicated contributor 🦉
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    If I was you I'd look on the HSE website and look for legislation where it is vital to ask the question which in turn would prove againsts the annoying know it all buggers theory of this micky mouse legislation!!

    dont you just HATE them!!!
  • payrollpro
    payrollpro Registered Posts: 427 Dedicated contributor 🦉
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    Hi,

    You need to look in various places to determine what your approach to this will be. Firstly have a look at the data protection act, according to that information regarding a persons physical or mental well being and condition is sensitive information and covered by a special provision of the DPA called schedule 3. As such it can only be processed by a health professional. As far as I am aware even level 4 AAT foundation does not include a module on medical competence!

    Saying that the SSP regulations, social security and housing benefit act 1982, make it very clear that an employer must decide if an employee is genuinely unable to carry out their work as a result of some specified physical or mental disablement, otherwise the requirements are not fulfilled. How can you do that if you cant see the information about the condition which necessitates their absence?

    Yes there are H&S issues because the employer is responsible for risk assessments when a workers circumstances change, again you cant do that unless you know what the condition is.

    It is a dilemma, however the only legal requirement is to make sure the information requested is reasonable in terms of the role the employer has and if the employer has an occupational health facility to let them deal with everything. Apart from that no employee can justifiably refuse to supply evidence of incapacity and there is no law which supports this.

    Final comment, yes it is mad, employers are damned if they ask and damned if they don't so you can't win!

    Payrollpro
  • Marga
    Marga Registered Posts: 981 Epic contributor 🐘
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    in my company if you cannot make it to work you have to advise your line manager an hour within when your job is due and give them reason as to why you cant get into work.

    This needs to be done verbally.

    Used to be ok to contact reception and say you could not make it to work and then reception would pass the message on but as it seems many people faked their illness it came mandatory that you would contact by phone your line manager. If they would not be available you are meant to call every half an hour until you are able to talk to them personally.

    Line managers have an obligation as well that if an employee is not at their job within 15 min of their starting time then they have to call the person and ask what are the reasons for being late or not coming at all

    Every line manager has personal telephone numbers from their emlpoyees (or must have)

    Now i have not been sick for more than two days so regarding a long-period illness i am not sure what the policies are

    I was sick last week for a day as i had a cold and headache so i called in and spoke to my manager. She was fine and advised to give her a call the next day if i was not going to make it either.

    Once i returned to the office i had to fill in a form advising why i was absent from work .
    this was passed to the manager to authorise (and verify that it was correct, ie what i told her was what i had filled in the form)



    I believe that HR are the ones that use most of the data ....

    There was a case of a lady who used to always call in sick either fridays or mondays...so it as investigated after a year and it came out that actually she was taken long weekends away.... she no longer works in the company lol

    I dont think it is illegal , on the contrary, i think when you sign up your contract to work for an employee there is a clause where it says your rights and the employers right to question these things if it affects your working pattern and you are not fit for purposes (lol i AM becoming an accountant!)

    If you ahve nothing to hide there should be no reason as to why employers cannot ask!
  • blobbyh
    blobbyh Registered Posts: 2,415 Beyond epic contributor 🧙‍♂️
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    Thanks everyone. I thought the assumption was just that - an assumption - not backed up by anything other than personal opinion and hearsay but you know how it is when it comes to these self imposed "company experts" who are often anything but!

    I can see a data protection concern if non-relevant people in the company were demanding to know, but preventing idle gossip isn't the same as legislating against it, and if it comes down to a situation where your attendance could endanger yourself or others at work - e.g. serious contagious illness - then an employer certainly has a right to be aware and you surely have a duty under Health & Safety At Work legislation to advise them of certain dangerous conditions.
  • tigger37
    tigger37 Registered Posts: 200 Dedicated contributor 🦉
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    Marga wrote: »
    in my company if you cannot make it to work you have to advise your line manager an hour within when your job is due and give them reason as to why you cant get into work.

    This needs to be done verbally.

    Used to be ok to contact reception and say you could not make it to work and then reception would pass the message on but as it seems many people faked their illness it came mandatory that you would contact by phone your line manager. If they would not be available you are meant to call every half an hour until you are able to talk to them personally.

    Line managers have an obligation as well that if an employee is not at their job within 15 min of their starting time then they have to call the person and ask what are the reasons for being late or not coming at all

    Every line manager has personal telephone numbers from their emlpoyees (or must have)

    Now i have not been sick for more than two days so regarding a long-period illness i am not sure what the policies are

    I was sick last week for a day as i had a cold and headache so i called in and spoke to my manager. She was fine and advised to give her a call the next day if i was not going to make it either.

    Once i returned to the office i had to fill in a form advising why i was absent from work .
    this was passed to the manager to authorise (and verify that it was correct, ie what i told her was what i had filled in the form)



    I believe that HR are the ones that use most of the data ....

    There was a case of a lady who used to always call in sick either fridays or mondays...so it as investigated after a year and it came out that actually she was taken long weekends away.... she no longer works in the company lol

    I dont think it is illegal , on the contrary, i think when you sign up your contract to work for an employee there is a clause where it says your rights and the employers right to question these things if it affects your working pattern and you are not fit for purposes (lol i AM becoming an accountant!)

    If you ahve nothing to hide there should be no reason as to why employers cannot ask!
    HR are the ones who use the data the most as at our place, the HR people then take the data and report it across the whole of the global corporation to see if there is a specific location showing more than normal.
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