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What to consider when recruiting someone with M.E.?

People with M.E. consistently tell us they would love nothing better than to return to employment. With the right support, it is possible for some people with M.E. to do this.

If you are considering offering employment to someone with M.E., you may have practical questions. Many JobcentrePlus offices have a Disability Adviser who can help.

The provision of the 2010 Equality Act relating to disability may apply when someone has a diagnosis of M.E., which means some reasonable adjustments to normal working conditions may be required. Help with costs may be available through the Access to Work programme.

Once you have offered a person a job you are allowed to ask appropriate health-related questions.

You may not ask health-related questions before you have made an offer, unless you need to:

  • decide whether an applicant can carry out an essential function of the post
  • make reasonable adjustments to the selection process
  • monitor diversity or take positive action to assist disabled people.

A complaint may be made to the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) if someone thinks you are asking questions unlawfully. The EHRC may in turn take enforcement action against an employer, in appropriate cases, to stop such questions being asked.

If you ask health-related questions during the recruitment process and do not then offer a disabled person the job, they may bring a claim of discrimination against you. The burden of proof, to show that the reason for the rejection of the disabled person was not discriminatory, will fall on you.

Any offer of employment can be conditional as long as the conditions are stated in the letter. If you specify a probationary period or insist on a medical examination, this must apply to all prospective employees, not only those who have an existing medical condition.