Reasonable Adjustments at Work and Disability Discrimination

12 January 2017

Are You Entitled to Reasonable Adjustments at Work?

Under the Equality Act 2010 a person is disabled if they have a physical or mental impairment which has a substantially adverse and long-term effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities. The Equality Act 2010 provides disabled people with protection from discrimination in a range of areas, including employment.

The types of Disability Discrimination at Work are (1) direct, (2) discrimination by association, (3) indirect, (4) harassment, (5) victimisation, (6) discrimination arising from a disability and (7) the failure to make reasonable adjustments in the workplace.

Under the Equality Act the duty on employers to make reasonable adjustments aims to help disabled workers who would otherwise be put at a substantial disadvantage. This includes making reasonable adjustments during the recruitment process. Discrimination arises where an employer fails to make reasonable adjustments.

Duty to Make Reasonable Adjustments

The duty to make reasonable adjustments arises where there is a Provision, Criterion or Practice (PCP) applied by or on behalf of the employer, a physical feature of premises occupied by an employee, or the lack of an auxillary aid which places a disabled person at a substantial disadvantage compared with people who are not disabled.

In this type of situation the employer has to take all reasonable steps to avoid those disadvantages.

Was the Employer Aware of the Disability?

An employer will not be obliged to make reasonable adjustments unless it can be shown that they know or could reasonably have known that the individual in question is disabled, and likely to be placed at a substantial disadvantage because of their disability.

What Reasonable Adjustments?

Many of the reasonable adjustments an employer makes will not be particularly expensive, and an employer is not required to do more than what is reasonable. However, what is reasonable for the employer depends on its individual circumstances such as the size and nature of the organisation.

Reasonable adjustments could include:

  • Making adjustments to the employer’s premises
  • Allocating some of the disabled workers duties to another
  • Altering the disabled workers hours
  • Providing supervision or support
  • Modifying the workplace policy.

If an Employer Fails to Make Reasonable Adjustments

If the employer fails to make any reasonable adjustments the affected employee may bring a claim in the Employment Tribunal, and the employer may be ordered to pay the employee compensation as well as making reasonable adjustments.

Before lodging a claim with the Employment Tribunal the employee should first notify ACAS of their claim and go through the Early Conciliation process within the correct time limits.

Our Employment Solicitors have helped over 3,000 employees in England & Wales with their employment rights and can help you too.

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