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Interview: question not asked!

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My wife, who works for the NHS as a healthcare assistant, recently went for an interview (also in the NHS) for a job as a clinical coder. She was offered the job conditionally on references, but then the offer was withdrawn when the references were received, citing "discrepancies" between the interview answers and the references.

Specifically, she had had some time off for knee surgeries (arthroscopies on both knees) - this was stated in the references. But no question about health or sick leave was asked in the interview, and she didn't volunteer the information. The two interviewers claim that they did ask the question and that my wife denied having any sick leave - but she was in fact never asked the question! The offer was refused not because she had sick leave but because they perceive her as being dishonest.

I suspect that because the interview was not recorded, and it is two people's word against one, there is nothing that can be done. Nevertheless it is very annoying and she is thinking of making a formal complaint to HR.

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It is generally unlawful to ask questions about health and sickness records at interview (before making a job offer) - s60 Equality Act 2010 - although there are some exceptions, so it's an odd claim for the interviewers to make. Is your wife in a union? They should be able to advise.



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All NHS staff must have a pre-appointment health check, all checks abide with Equality Act, Disability discrimination.


As Ethel has said, if your wife is a member of an union they can advise on this. A lof of NHS staff are with UNISON.


A complaint could be made to HR, though am not sure what outcome can be expected as the job is likely to be filled. In the meantime, there is NHSP. Your wife could join NHSP and have access to a range of jobs in different hospitals. Many different job roles. It is possible to work with NHSP as well as her current job.

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There is a wealth of information on this site around SAR requests.


I have no idea of what outcomes there could be here (possibly little to none, especially if they have offered the post to a-n other) but at face value of your post i think if i was pursuing this i would do so as a low pressure fishing exercise.


What i mean by this is i would be asking without quoting any law or considered mistreatment. I would simply ask that i receive a fuller explanation of the reason why the post was not offered due to their stated "dishonesty", this way if they are stupid enough to explain it in the way your wife perceives it she may have some clout. If they are clever they may just reply stating she had a poor sickness record which means the question isn't asked and neither is anything around protected characteristics linked by greg. They could also send any of a score of other fob off's


I'm not an expert in this area (or any other but less so here) but i do belive it would be legal for an employer to refuse a reference on the grounds of sickness absence level (not why, numbers ) and if her knees are now "working" she may not be considered disabled going forward meaning low chance of claiming under disability legislation.


Whilst you have zero in black and white that is also the number of the chance you have or pursuing this. Go in all guns blazing and you will alert them to the issue, do it carefully they may well trip themselves up if indeed they have, people interpret and hear many things in employment terms, i've yet to meet anyone who didn't get a job and then didn't state they were the best candidate or "stitched up" , it is only when you see reasons on paper there is any chance your not wasting your time here.

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