Have you ever wondered what type of questions and queries potential employers are not allowed to ask you about at an interview? It may not be as apparent as you think, as the range of illegal questions covers an array of different topics. Here, Care Check explores some of these illegal questions, and some may surprise you.
Is it legal for an employer to ask your ethnicity?
Under no circumstance can your employer ask about your ethnic background or probe into the details of where you were born or your race. This includes asking what accent you have.
They also cannot ask about your religion, practice, or beliefs, as this is wholly irrelevant to the job you’re applying for and could potentially be grounds for discrimination.
While it is legal and acceptable to ask about your religion on job application forms, this is purely for monitoring purposes and should not be brought up in the interview and hiring process.
Can an employer ask about your gender or sexuality?
It is also illegal for employers to inquire about your gender identification and your sexuality.
Whether that’s a question of your gender (male, female, cisgender etc.) or sexuality (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer etc.), your employer is simply not allowed to bring this up.
It is also illegal for your potential employer to bring up gender in relation to your ability to perform your job, as it can appear as though they are favouring one gender over another in terms of job performance.
Is it illegal for an employer to ask about your arrest record and previous convictions?
Employers do have the right to ask about criminal convictions and imprisonment, particularly if the job is sensitive or you are working with vulnerable/young people within a regulated activity. (i.e. a school).
However, you are not obliged to reveal criminal convictions that are spent to your employer, which are convictions that can be legally ignored after a specific amount of time.
Can employers ask about medical conditions?
An employer asking a direct question about the details of your medical history, or any health issues you may have, is illegal. They are also forbidden to question you about a disability or illness you may currently have, as it could be perceived as discriminatory.
The only exception to this is if your employer is querying about whether you may need any adjustments to accommodate you for the job.
However, they cannot ask how or when you acquired any impairments.
Is it legal to ask about family in a job interview?
It is illegal for your employer to inquire about your family or marital status.
This includes asking about:
- Whether you plan to get married
- If you are trying for a baby
- If you live with your spouse.
Employers should entirely avoid asking about your marital status as some companies may appear to favour single employees due to the perception that they will have more time to dedicate to the job.
What you can do if asked these questions at an interview
If you are in an interview and face one of these illegal questions, it is essential to know that you have the right to refuse to answer the question. If you feel like you are being pressured into answering an illegal question, you are within your rights to stop the interview at any time you like.
A note to employers
Ignorance is not a strong enough excuse for explaining why you asked an illegal question during an interview. Therefore, it is crucial that you request sufficient training and check ahead of interviews what you can and can’t ask. This protects you and your company from accusations of discrimination.