After countless hours spent recruiting you’ve finally found the perfect candidate and extend a letter offering employment. Don’t stop now. The hard work on securing your next best employee is still underway. You’re now entering the “new hire” phase, during which you can seek additional information about the fit of your candidate that you were not permitted to ask prior to an offer of employment.
Many employers take advantage of the opportunity to ask a new hire to submit to a drug screen, a criminal background or to provide access to their driving record. Another potentially more important evaluation to add to many new hire programs is the use of a post-offer, pre-employment medical questionnaire.
You shouldn’t solicit medical information about a candidate before hiring. Instead, employers have to focus on the physical requirements of the job and are only permitted to ask questions about their ability to perform those essential functions. As part of the essential functions, the hiring manager may state that employees will be required to lift up to 25 pounds, stand for eight hours or bend at the waste and retrieve an item from the floor. None of these are medical questions. They are simply samples of functions that will need to be performed as a part of the job.
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), employers are allowed to conduct medical inquiries of prospective employees after a job offer has been made, but before the employee is placed into the job in the post-hire phase.
During this post-hire phase, you can ask specific questions about requirements for accommodations, i.e. Have you ever been treated for back, neck or leg pain? Do you have a fear of heights or small places? If the responses to any of these questions raise a concern, do not put hiring managers in the position of making a medical diagnosis. Instead, have the employee see a medical professional and gain a professional opinion on the matter.
Failing to ask these questions in the proper order and to seek outside professional assistance when merited is where a great many hiring managers get into trouble with employees and employment law. Similarly, failure to accurately and completely respond to post employment medical questionnaires should be cause for concern, and if the employee were to subsequently file claim for an on-the-job injury, could be a reason for denial.