Employers denying jobs to applicants based on medical histories, gov’t study finds

Some Japanese companies demand job applicants provide personal medical histories and deny employment based on their content, a Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare (MHLW) research group has discovered.

The ministry has directed employers not to ask for medical information unrelated to the positions in question, citing a risk of employment discrimination, while the research group will distribute an awareness-raising booklet based on its findings.

“Should medical information on completely recovered former patients be required for employment screening, even if that information is not used as a basic employment criterion, the request itself puts pressure on childhood cancer survivors, and can become a barrier to reintegrating into society,” says Keiko Asami, head of pediatrics at the Niigata Cancer Center Hospital.

There are no laws regulating the demand for medical histories on job application forms. However, according to the MHLW, “There is a risk of influencing employment decisions, and is thus connected to employment discrimination,” putting medical histories in the same category as personal beliefs and ancestry as information that “should not be considered” for employment purposes.