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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 44923
Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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What are my rights as an employee if I am absent from work

Customer Question

What are my rights as an employee if I am absent from work due to mental health issues. I have been referred to the occupational health department.
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 3 years ago.

Ben Jones :

Hello, my name is Ben and it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. Before proceeding please note that as I am a practising solicitor, I am often in and out of meetings, travelling between clients or even at court when I pick your question up. This may even occur at weekends. Therefore, I apologise in advance but there may be a delay in getting back to you and providing my advice. Please be patient and I will respond as soon as I can. You do not have to wait here and you will receive an email when I have responded. For now please let me know how long you have worked there.

JACUSTOMER-b7g7yu3h- :

23 years

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 3 years ago.
Apologies for the delay, the system had not informed me that you had replied.

First of all you may have rights under disability discrimination legislation, but only if you are found to have a disability. In the legal sense of the word, disability can have a broad meaning and there is no single list of conditions that qualify. Instead, to establish whether a person is disabled for legal purposes, they need to establish whether they meet the legal definition of ‘disability’.

The Equality Act 2010 (“EA”) defines a disability as a “physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on a person’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities”.

I will break this definition down:
• Physical or mental impairment – this can include nearly any medical condition, including progressive conditions and mental conditions such as depression;
• Substantial effect – the effect must be more than minor or trivial;
• Long-term - the effect of the impairment must either have lasted or be likely to last for at least 12 months;
• Normal day-to-day activities – these are not defined but would include anything considered ‘normal’ in a person's normal daily routine (e.g. eating, washing, driving, walking, shopping, etc.)

If a person satisfies the above elements, they will be classified as being disabled and will have automatic protection against discrimination, which means that they must not be treated less favourably because of their disability. In addition, their employer would have a duty to make reasonable adjustments if they are likely to be placed at a substantial disadvantage when compared to non-disabled employees.

What amounts to ‘reasonable adjustments’ can have a wide interpretation and often depends on the individual circumstances. Below are some examples of what could amount to a reasonable adjustment:
• making adjustments to work premises;
• allocating some of the employee’s duties to others;
• transferring the employee to fill an existing suitable vacancy;
• altering the employee’s hours of work;
• allowing the employee to be absent during working hours for rehabilitation, assessment or treatment connected to their disability;
• acquiring or modifying specialist equipment;
• providing supervision or other support.

If someone who is disabled is being treated less favourably because of their disability or their employer has failed to make reasonable adjustments it would potentially amount to disability discrimination. The first step would be to raise a formal grievance. The next step would be to consider whether a claim for disability discrimination should be made in an employment tribunal (bearing in mind that the time limit for claiming is only 3 months from the date of the alleged discriminatory behaviour taking place).

I would be grateful if you could please take a second to leave a positive rating. Your question will not close and I can continue providing further advice if necessary. Thank you

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