A person who has a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long term effect on their ability to do normal daily activities, is deemed to be disabled under the Equality Act 2010.
It is illegal to discriminate against (either directly or indirectly) somebody who has a disability, at work, during the recruitment process or through selecting a worker for redundancy.
Whilst many older people are not classified as disabled the guidelines also take about the opportunities for businesses in recruiting and retaining older people.
Much of the detail of the guidelines focuses on the concept of “reasonable adjustments”. It is important to note that reasonable adjustments are required, by law, throughout the recruitment process – right from the point of advertising the role. If employers fail to do this they can be taken to a tribunal.
You could consider:
Employers often fear the costs of making adjustments to accommodate disabled people and therefore shy away from recruiting them. However, the costs are often low and can be supported by a grant. Access to Work is a scheme specifically designed to aid employers in employing disabled workers.
Reasonable adjustments could include:
If an employee has become disabled since working for your business or there has been a change in an existing impairment or health condition that makes it harder for them to fulfil their role, the Jobcentre Plus offers advice on how you can retain disabled employees.
Reasonable adjustments also affect the management of performance issues. All employees have a right to fair treatment in the management of performance. Before starting action you must be able to demonstrate that you have made reasonable adjustments to allow the disabled employee to improve their performance. If you don’t, you could be taken to a tribunal.
There are a number of conditions that employers may not know need to be considered as ‘disabilities’ in this way. The following conditions are included within the guidelines and subject to the same requirements relating to anti-discrimination in recruitment and employment:
As of recent case law the Attorney General has stated that, in his view, obesity is not a category of disability in its own right and, accordingly, does not attract automatic disability protection. However, he did confirm that there may be circumstances where the impact of obesity is sufficient to lead to disability.
To read the DWP guidance on employing disable people and people with health conditions go to www.gov.uk/government/publications/ employing-disabled-people-and-peoplewith-health-conditions/employingdisabled-people-and-people-with-healthconditions
For help with setting in place clear guidelines and policies relating to recruitment and employment contracts contact our Commercial Services team on 0117 9292811. For help with handling disputes on this subject contact James Taylor on 01454 204880.