When did you have your last menstruation?

, by Translated by Pia Menning, Vincent Venus

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When did you have your last menstruation?

The medical questionnaire for employees of the European Parliament is both shameless and discriminatory.

Working for the European Parliament is a dream job for many; but those who are nearing employment with the institution have to bare their in-depth personal details in a medical questionnaire which compulses applicants to specify illness, family medical history and personal life conduct..

Assistants of Members of the European Parliament are looking forward to the new legislative period, as a new rule grants them the status of an official employee of the EP. The legal certainty however, comes at a huge price, as official staff members; they now have to undergo a medical examination which includes a questionnaire that has been likened to that of a blood donation bank.

Impertinent questions

The form is divided into four parts. First the standard personal data, which is needed by every employer: name, nationality, address and so forth. If one turns the page though, the form takes your breath away. Questions regarding family medical history: “Has any member of your family suffered from cancer […] or a mental illness (schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s disease, depression...)?” It keeps getting better and better. Subsequently one is questioned regarding one’s personal medical record. Some extracts: “Have you suffered from any of the following diseases or disorders:”

 urinary tract disease
 sexual transmitting diseases
 tumors, cancer
 and so forth

On the next page questions relate to one’s personal life conduct:

 Did you lose or gain weight in the last three years? How much?
 Do you smoke? If yes, do you smoke cigarettes, pipe or cigars?
 What is your daily/weekly consumption of alcohol?
 Do you partake in sports? Which kind?
  For women: please indicate the date of your last period.

For women: please indicate the date of your last period.

The background

With the collected data the institution wishes to find out about the “physical fitness of staff members” to “protect his/her health”, as indicated in the questionnaire. The actual reason to a lesser extent is to protect the administration’s cost-benefit analysis. If an assistant is not available, due to illness, pregnancy or disablement, a replacement has to be found and that is expensive. Of course any employer would like to prevent these situations and a lot of people would like to use such questionnaires, but by law only questions which are directly connected to the professional qualifications are allowed.

The parliament tolerates betrayal of its own principles

The strengthening of data and consumer protection was one of the great accomplishments of the EP but now it appears as if an obvious abuse in the very same house is not bothering anyone. The first reaction came from Cornelia Ernst, Member of the European Parliament for the German left-wing party ’Die Linke’, who last December called on the assistants to refrain from filling out the questionnaire. The reproaches however have been known since 2008, which at that time the European Data Protection Supervisor Peter Hustinx noted in a report that the questionnaire should be revised with regard to relevance and appropriateness. In addition to such recommendations, a more precise and reasonable point in time for the deletion of the data would have to be defined. Currently this date is named as after 30 years.

Image: Doctor Checking Clipboard, source: Google Images

Your comments
  • On 12 February 2010 at 20:01, by Duncan Replying to: When did you have your last menstruation?

    Well, this is maybe discriminatory and so on but... I just signed a contract for a loan and the exact same type of questions were asked to me. I also had to resign to the protection of my medical data. If you refuse: no loan!

    I think, alas, that this is a trend in our society far beyond this particular case.

    Next step: gene testing.

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