Telling your employer about illness or injury – during employment

For free and private legal advice about this topic, you can contact us here.

Sometimes employers will ask you personal medical questions, or ask you to attend a medical examination. You do not need to disclose (tell) your employer any of your personal medical information, except when it is relevant to the job you’re doing.  

If you have been asked medical questions by your boss, or you’ve been asked by them to attend a certain medical appointment and you’re unsure if you have to, contact us here for free and confidential legal advice. 

Navigate this page

What is medical disclosure?

‘Medical disclosure’ just means telling someone your personal medical details, which might include: 

  • History of mental illness 
  • Previous surgeries 
  • Current medications you’re on; or 
  • Any other medical conditions, like epilepsy. 

Can I be asked to disclose medical information by my employer?

There may be times when an employer asks you for personal medical information. This might be: 

  • If you’ve had to take more sick days than you’re allowed; 
  • If you’re having trouble doing the job because of an injury or medical condition; or 
  • If you have/are planning to submit a workers’ compensation claim. 

You might be asked questions like: 

  • Do you have any current medical conditions, like diabetes or epilepsy? 
  • Are you on any medications that might affect your ability to do the job? 
  • Do you have a disability which may impact your ability to do the job? 
  • Do you have any previous WorkCover claims? 

You only need to provide medical information which is relevant to the job you are being employed to do, if that medical information is reasonably likely to have an impact on your work.  

Can I refuse to provide my medical information?

There is no law in Australia which forces employees to provide their personal medical information to an employer. In fact, many conditions including previous injuries and psychiatric disabilities are protected under the law – which means that employers cannot sack you or discriminate against you simply because of any real or imagined issue that your medical condition might present.  

However, your employer may need to know any medical conditions which can have an impact on your ability to do the job, so they can assess any safety risks, and/or what adjustments they might need to make for you so you can do the job.

What questions is my employer allowed to ask about my medical history?

Employers can only ask questions about your medical history, or current medical situation, in cases where those questions relate to the genuine requirements of the job. An employer can ask certain questions to determine if you can still do the job, to assess any safety risks, or to work with you to figure out what changes you might need in the workplace so you can still do the job. This might occur after you’ve been diagnosed with a medical condition but wish to continue working. 

For more information on discrimination in employment, see our information page on Discrimination in the workplace.

Medical examinations

Sometimes employers will ask you to attend a medical appointment, sometimes called an ‘Independent Medical Examination’ (‘IME’). This can happen: 

  • If you have been injured, or have been diagnosed with a new medical condition; 
  • If your role has changed, and you have new physical requirements (e.g., you have to lift over 20kg); 
  • If you are returning to work after recovering from an injury; or 
  • If you have claimed for workers compensation and there is a dispute about the medical reports you have provided from your own doctor.

Just like the rules around disclosing your medical history, employers are allowed to ask you to attend one of these appointments if it the request is reasonable, for example: 

  • If there are possible safety risks involved in the job, for example a job in mining; 
  • If there are specific duties in the job which might be difficult with certain medical conditions; 
  • If they need more information to assess your return to work capacity after an injury; and/or 
  • If the insurer needs more information to assess a workers’ compensation claim.  

Before you attend a doctor’s appointment requested by your employer

Before you attend a doctor’s appointment requested by your employer, it’s important to: 

  • Agree with the employer beforehand what questions or information the doctor is allowed to ask;  
  • Agree with the employer which doctor you will see – you can suggest your own specialist; 
  • To sign a consent form for them to access the IME report – this is still a doctor’s appointment and therefore confidential, so your employer can only access the result s if you CONSENT. It is a good idea at this time to also ask them to provide you with a copy of any results/reports too. 
  • Confirm that your employer or insurer is going to pay – they can be expensive.  

The law says that employers can ask you to undertake a medical assessment ‘where necessary’.

If you’ve been asked to do a medical test and you’re not sure if you have to, or what your rights are, contact us here for free and confidential legal advice. 

Vaccinations

Employers can ask you to get specific vaccinations, or provide proof of vaccinations in certain circumstances, for example: 

  • If you are about to start a job in a health setting, like a hospital; or 
  • You’re required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 vaccine in your workplace. For specific information on the COVID-19 vaccine, see our information page here. 

The information regarding the COVID-19 vaccine on our page titled COVID-19 vaccines and your workplace rights can be applied to any vaccine required by your employer.  

Medical disclosure during the recruitment process

Sometimes employers will ask employees to answer medical questions, or even undergo a medical examination before you start a job. For information on this, see our page on Telling your employer about an illness or injury during recruitment

Got a question you can't get answered?

If you have a problem or a question, you can send it to us today and we can provide you with free advice, information and referrals to help solve your problem. Just click on the button below.

Get help now

Select Your State or Territory

The law is different in each state and territory. Please select your state or territory to view legal information that applies to you.

// Zoho Script