Many thanks for your patience. If the employer simply goes ahead and demotes her because of this, it is very likely that it will amount to disability discrimination, or pregnancy discrimination if the issues she is experiencing are linked to her pregnancy.
As the depression is likely to amount to a disability under employment law, she will have certain rights and protections. First of all the employer must not treat someone detrimentally because of a disability and secondly they must also make reasonable adjustments to help them deal with these issues.
What amounts to ‘reasonable adjustments’ can have a wide interpretation and often depends on the individual circumstances of the employer, their business, the potential impact on other employees, the available resources, etc. Whilst legislation does not currently provide specific examples of what adjustments can be made, the following are examples that have been considered reasonable in case law over time:
· 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
Whilst she may be offered a different role for the time being, this should not automatically result in a demotion and it may even be a case of moving her to something suitable but keeping her permanent status and pay unaffected. She would then eventually return once she feels better.
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