Six months into my employment in the UK, my current employer is now asking that I can provide a character reference from a former employer. They had received responses from a few other employers but was asked to forward this last one myself. One of the questions in the questionnaire is:
- Do you know of any factor concerning the subject that might cause his/her fitness for employment on sensitive work to be questioned? If yes, please give details. (Among the factors which are relevant are significant financial difficulties, abuse of alcohol or drugs, an extravagant mode of living or signs of mental or physical illness which may impair judgment or reliability)
I am surprised that my previous employer has been asked to asses if I showed signs of mental health issues? Is anybody qualified to asses that except mental health professionals? Is this questionnaire form legal? Can the company legally ask this type of questions from a previous employer?
Indeed, this information is required as part of a security vetting. However, I was only asked to guarantee that the company will receive employment references. A successful security vetting was a mandatory condition of my employment. I was never told that they would be asking for (signs of) mental health information from my previous employers.
Edited to highlight this is happening in the United Kingdom / England. Edited to add more context information.