So, I was recently off for two days due to flu, post weekend, and I'm now returning to work. I have to complete a self assessment form, and complete an interview with my line manager. This is the policy set for all instances of sick leave regardless of length or reason.

Upon reviewing the self assessment form I was somewhat set back by the questions:

This must be specific. For absence related to dependants or compassionate, details of the relationship should be provided. For absence related to illness words like ‘sick’ or ‘ill’ will not suffice.

Followed by

Did you receive medication from

  1. your doctor Yes [ ] No [ ]
  2. self prescribed from chemist Yes [ ] No [ ]

    Please give names/details of any medication being taken, prescribed or otherwise:

So, my question is... Is it common practice to request such granular level of detail such as medication for basic office work (software development) sick leave, and are you at liberty to provide it?

I can't fathom what they would even do with the medication information given we don't employ pharmacists.

Update: Posting from UK, England.


  • 5
    Depending upon your location asking for such information may be illegal. Please update the question to indicate a country for better results.
    – Steve
    Oct 7, 2019 at 13:49
  • 2
    Somewhat off topic. I was just speaking to a colleague who was off for a short while with depression. He listed his medication. What shocked me with that is HR started giving their personal opinions on one of the medications stating "you shouldn't really be taking x as its addictive". That to me is crossing so many lines. They are not medical professionals and have absolutely no place questioning the practice of someone who is. It just leads me back to original question.. Given HR aren't medically qualified, for what use is listing medication?
    – garty
    Oct 7, 2019 at 14:11
  • 2
    "and don't mind providing the requested information." Even then don't provide any information to make it easier for those who really don't want to make their illness public.
    – FooTheBar
    Oct 7, 2019 at 14:18
  • 1
    This seems like a gross violation of your privacy.
    – solarflare
    Oct 8, 2019 at 1:39
  • 1
    @Christian I did tell a white lie... My stools were unaffected, but my god did I go into great detail about their consistency. If forced to provide detail I'm going to make it stomach turning to read.
    – garty
    Oct 9, 2019 at 9:15

2 Answers 2


They can ask but you don't have to answer - as your absence was less than 7 calendar days simply stating that you were not well enough to work is sufficient.

To quote acas:

If a worker is absent due to sickness for seven days or less they can self-certify their absence. This means the worker informs their employer that they are not well enough to work and do not need to provide any further medical evidence.

(emphasis mine).

That said there are circumstances where the granular detail of medications you describe is appropriate - e.g. where your role includes driving or operating Forklifts or other heavy machinery. Basic office work? Not so much - it's going to be very difficult for any employer to prove it's reasonable to know what you were/are taking, and the same goes for symptoms - they are only pertinent when it could affect your ability to perform the role or the safety of yourself or others at work. Even then it's not a right for them to know this information, at worst they can seek a Fit Note from the doctor.

The text of the form is likely a boiler plate one designed to cover all scenarios rather than specific to you or this employer.

Is this a hill worth dying on in this particular case? That's going to have to be your call - personally for something this trivial I would probably just answer rather than get into it.

  • Thanks for your answer. "Is this a hill worth dying on in this particular case?" No. And I'm fine providing the information. I'm just curious as to how common a practice this is, and if I'm at liberty to provide the information.
    – garty
    Oct 7, 2019 at 14:17
  • 5
    "Is this a hill worth dying on in this particular case?" Maybe not for you. But by providing this information you make it harder for those who really do not want to make their illness public.
    – FooTheBar
    Oct 7, 2019 at 14:19

A Return to Work procedure is standard and common place, but listing the provided medications is odd - but not illegal or unethical.

If you're on medication that can possibly affect your performance, such as pain killers, you can use this form to pre-emptively cover yourself by informing your HR department.


This information falls under the Data Protection Act and is sensitive information, and should only been viewed or accessed under proper circumstances. Posting this information on an intranet site or otherwise without prior consent is in direct violation of said act.

  • "but not illegal or unethical" Asking for it with this pressure "This must be specific." is at least unethical and likely also illegal.
    – FooTheBar
    Oct 7, 2019 at 14:04
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    @FooTheBar no this is the standard boilerplate text used in the UK = its the exact wording my company does I just summarise the symptoms eg vomiting, dhioreha or what have you Oct 7, 2019 at 14:07
  • If you work in a restaurant, asking about vomiting or diarrhoea would be fine. If you operate heavy machines asking about dizzy spells would be fine.
    – gnasher729
    Oct 9, 2019 at 11:36

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