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This is the third and last in this current series of postings about employment issues. This week we are looking at the statutory duty of employers to make “reasonable adjustments” under the Equality Act 2010 (EA) to enable people with disabilities or health conditions to either start work or to stay in work.
If you have a physical or mental impairment which has a ‘substantial’ (which means more than minor or trivial) and ‘long-term’ (12 months or more) negative effect on your ability to do normal daily activities. Fluctuating or recurring conditions such as arthritis or fibromyalgia are included. Some conditions are automatically treated as a disability under the EA: Cancer; HIV infection; Multiple sclerosis; severe disfigurement (not tattoos); sight problems certified by a consultant ophthalmologist. For more information about “What counts as a disability” click here.
An employer only has a duty to make reasonable adjustments if they know about your disability or health issue. You can expect your employer to know if your line manager or HR know. Enquiries should be made if they see you have problems or are showing behaviour possibly linked to disability such as absences from work or problems dealing with work tasks. Click here for more information.
Employers must make adjustment if ALL of the following apply:
Employers have a duty to remove barriers which a person covered by the EA face. They must: change how things are done in the work place – e.g. changing duties, work hours or giving extra rest breaks; make physical changes to the work premises; provide extra aids or support- e.g. a “talking” computer, additional training, easier access.
It is important to note that the only adjustments the employer needs to make are to stop any disadvantage which might otherwise be present, such as putting a ramp in for a wheelchair user. Click here for more information.
If you are applying for a job or you are already working for an employer, adjustments should be made. But remember, any adjustments must be “reasonable”. A small company might not be able to accommodate some modifications to overcome the disadvantage present for a disability. An employee should not be asked to pay for any adjustments.
If you think you have been discriminated against because of a disability or health condition, or been dismissed because of it or due to sickness, it may be unlawful under the EA. Click here for further information.