For the instruction of others (because I’m sure you’ve seen this already), the relevant bits of the Access to Medical Reports Act 1988 say that an employer (or prospective employer) may reasonably ask for medical records:
- for a pre-employment check where health or physical ability is a relevant factor for the job;
- as a prerequisite for membership of an employer’s health insurance scheme; or
- to assess whether an employee is suffering from a physical or mental impairment which might constitute a disability for the purposes of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA) and/or to determine whether any reasonable adjustments that might assist them to carry out their job are required under the DDA. (Other circumstances are also legal but are not relevant to this discussion.)
If the first of those applies and you refuse access, then that would probably be legal, though you could argue that they should say why they wanted to see your records. If health or physical fitness is not a relevant requirement for the job, the employer has no right to access your records and turning you down on those grounds would probably be illegal (but just you try enforcing it…)
It may be that their HR team and the IT team haven’t spoken recently about issues surrounding IT and epilepsy. (I once had a close friend with epilepsy, so I know some of the issues.) In the days when monitors were CRTs with slow refresh rates, people with photo-sensitive epilepsy sometimes had problems working in IT, though there wasn’t a 100% correlation between exposure to VDUs and likelihood of seizures. Now, of course, LCD monitors don’t have the same issues - but I wonder if the company’s HR team are up to date on that? (You will probably know the answer to that far better than me.) Since you’re on this forum and applying for IT jobs, I assume you have no problems in that direction; but do all employers know that? Are they aware of the implications of the issue? Just plain turning you down for interview on the grounds of your epilepsy is without doubt a breach of the DDA.
Having access to medical records to assess possible adjustments required for a new starter under the DDA is a wholly laudable reason to ask. Some employers may ask to establish if any adjustments are needed for interview, though frankly that’s a bit of intrusive overkill when the simplest thing to do is just ask the candidate. Of course, then rejecting your candidature on the grounds of disability is in breach of the DDA; again, you try enforcing it, especially as they won’t actually tell you the real reason for your not getting the job unless they’re monumentally stupid (and you’d be surprised how many employers are monumentally stupid when it comes to this sort of thing).
I speak with the benefit of twenty years’ experience as a trade union representative in a (small) Government department. I don’t recollect ever having to argue over anyone’s disability; that one at least my employers signed up to; they could hardly break laws that the same Government actually passed, though you’d be surprised how often they tried (mainly through ignorance).