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Absenteeism and going for new jobs

  • 15-11-2022 10:24pm
    Registered Users Posts: 178 ✭✭


    Just wondering any thought or info available on this. Someone i know is in looking to move job, but has had a tough year, moved to multiple different houses is working stressful job and has a 2hr in the car commute to do twice a day, and works in an unhealthy environment. They are looking to get a job closer to home and wondering if the time they got wrote off for a month with stress and other sick days will hold them back and stop them being offered new roles, would be about 7 weeks out in the calendar year.

    Thanks for any help in advance.


  • Registered Users Posts: 623 ✭✭✭Minier81

    Alot of places send reference forms now when requesting references and I have seen several of these forms asking about number of days and number of episodes of sick leave, certified and uncertified, over the last 2 years. Also many employers will require a more comprehensive review by occupational health is a potential employee has had over a certain amount of sick. It is good to be aware of this.

    Obviously is someone's health is being affected they should take sick leave.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,179 ✭✭✭kennethsmyth

    I'm not sure they would be allowed to ask re number of sick days etc. They could ask if as a whole they were punctual etc. They can obviously ask but most companies would worry this would breach gdpr etc.

  • Registered Users Posts: 5,074 ✭✭✭stargazer 68

    Definitely allowed to ask. It's on our reference requests that we send out and we provide the information if asked including number of days and number of occurrences.

  • Registered Users Posts: 343 ✭✭twignme

    My understanding is that you can request information of a medical nature in a reference only once an offer of employment has been made. This prevents candidates being refused a position on the basis of anything which could be categorised as a disability.

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,522 ✭✭✭Raichu

    GDPR is not relevant here. Of course a prospective employer can ask a current or former one if an employee took sick days & if so, how many.

    GDPR is for your own personally identifiable information or sensitive info about you. They couldn’t ring your GP & discuss your medical history over the last two years, but they can certainly ask an employer you work(ed) for if you’re frequently absent due to illness/injury.

    And as an aside, if GDPR did protect that information from being shared it would be in my opinion a massive overreach & could end up with jobs being given only if you know the people you’re hiring somewhat personally.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 34,382 ✭✭✭✭o1s1n
    Master of the Universe

    Is asking how many sick days someone has had not sensitive information?

    Sensitive data (special category data): data relating to a data subject’s racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, religious beliefs, trade union membership, health, sexual orientation and genetic or biometric data. Generally, sensitive data cannot be processed without the data subject’s explicit consent, but employers can process sensitive data where necessary to carry out an employment contract or to fulfil collective agreement obligations

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,522 ✭✭✭Raichu

    no because they’re not asking for medical records just how many sick days they took.

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,554 ✭✭✭zg3409

    It depends if new employer checks and cares. It could always be excused away like parent was sick or other white lie.

  • Registered Users Posts: 94 ✭✭Ahshurlookit

    GDPR is relevant, you wouldn't release that information without the data subject's consent. Of course the data subject will consent if they want the new job so it's never actually an issue.

  • Registered Users Posts: 576 ✭✭✭CrookedJack

    I'm sorry I think you misunderstand GDPR.

    Some of the key tenets of GDPR here are:

    1. Your employer must have specific and relevant reasons for keeping this information about you
    2. Those reasons must be explained to you
    3. They can only use it for those reasons
    4. They must dispose of it once those reasons no longer apply.

    So unless they specifically informed you before your employment that they would be passing on your employment information to other data processors after you leave they would fall foul of 2 and 3. they would also need to be explicit as to what and why they were passing it on.

    They are likely breaching 1 anyway, as there is no business case that they need to retain your information to give to other companies after you leave.

    And really what you're saying does not make sense.

    If your doctor has data saying you have a medical condition and should not attend work, and your ex-employer has data that says you have a medical condition and did not attend work, how would one be "personally identifiable information or sensitive info" and the other one not?

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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,478 ✭✭✭kaymin

    The person is still employed by the company that is being asked these questions, no? Therefore they have legitimate reasons for retaining records of sick days etc for their employees

  • Registered Users Posts: 34,382 ✭✭✭✭o1s1n
    Master of the Universe

    Could not not extrapolate someone's level of sickness/Health based on how many sick days they've taken?

  • Registered Users Posts: 25,665 ✭✭✭✭Mrs OBumble

    The reason is the management of your employment relationship. After you leave, your data will be retained for a period for audit purposes, and other aspects of legal compliance. This will be a minimum of seven years for financial data, maybe longer for operational purposes (eg the life-time of the clients you worked with).

    By giving the employer's contact details as a referee, you are consenting to your data being used for this purpose.

    That's an explanation, not an excuse.

    Many employers don't ask about sick leave history. Some do. If I was the OP, this is not something I'd be worrying about.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,179 ✭✭✭kennethsmyth

    A reference will not include and should not include specific amounts of absenteeism or sickness days - as I said you could in a reference (so long as you don't mind being sued) that the employee was absent a lot but not the specific amount of days.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,179 ✭✭✭kennethsmyth

    No company or head of a department will fill that section out - absolutely overreach and asking to be sued.

  • Registered Users Posts: 25,665 ✭✭✭✭Mrs OBumble

    I know of one organisation which routinely asks for this, and am 100% certain that an applicant will not get a job unless it's completed. Quite a large organisation too. No one thinks it's overreach in there.

  • Registered Users Posts: 24,799 ✭✭✭✭Strumms

    I would have suspected it would be illegal for an employer, former or current to provide a third party with any information about heath or health related absences. Be it condition, number of sick days and number of sickness periods.

  • Registered Users Posts: 623 ✭✭✭Minier81

    They don't randomly provide it, they provide it on the request of the employee who has chosen them as a reference. Like Mrs o bumble above I know one the largest employers in the state asks for it and many other bodies too. Have seen it filled out by many employers from Ireland (public and private sector) and abroad. Of course no details just number of days and number of absences. Occ health review is for the details if needed.

    I very much doubt this is the only employer who asks.

    In fairness, we are all getting off point, the question by op is could sick days or leave matter for changing jobs, and the answer is that it could.

  • Registered Users Posts: 18 AmberKat

    Just because some employers ask for it doesn't mean it's not a breach. I worked for 1 of the main banks and their employee application form had multiple breaches of multiple different laws (asking about martial status, no. of children, health questions etc). When I brought it up to HR they said to just leave those sections blank if I had a problem with them.

    A current employer would have the right to record and know number of absence periods and sick days. However, I think there is a grey area where a potential employer may have a case to say they have a genuine business reason to ask. I don't think it's a strong one and would challenge if I had concerns about it.

    I think it's all a mute point though, as the key to this is that simply providing a person/company as a reference is not giving explicit consent for this information to be shared, unless it is outlined that this will be requested. The key with GDPR is you have to opt in to the sharing of information, that's why we get those annoying pop-ups when we go to websites for the first time now. Simply going to the website doesn't give them permission to track you, you have to proactively opt-in. Same would go here.

    So to answer the question, I don't think the person should be worried about this in a job hunt. They should be advised if this information is being requested in advance of it being requested and then if they still want to work for a company like that, they will have the opportunity to clarify the context for the leave. If they want to.

  • Registered Users Posts: 12,357 ✭✭✭✭mariaalice

    All that's going to happen is a potential employer is going to ask the candidate do they consent to the information on the candidate's work attendance being sought from their previous employer.

    It's a moot point in another way though an employee with a poor attendance record is just going to do the same in a new job and eventually HR will be involved unless its illness related, short-term illness benefit is not much over €200 a week very hard to live on so eventually they will have to go on disability benefit if it is a serious illness or they may face sanctions from their employer for constant non-illness related absences.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 13,997 ✭✭✭✭Dav010

    I presume you are talking about the HSE, I received a reference request form from the HSE and it queried the number of days the employee was absent, I can’t remember was it in the previous 6 or 12 months.