Thank you. Your rights will very much depend on whether you are classified as being disabled under law.
Disability can have a broad meaning from a legal perspective and there is no single list of medical conditions that qualify. Potentially anything can amount to a disability if it meets the required criteria.
The Equality Act 2010 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 and examine it in more detail:
- Physical or mental impairment – this can include nearly any medical condition, be it physical or mental
- Substantial effect – the effect must be more than minor or trivial
- Long-term - the impairment must either have lasted or be likely to last for at least 12 months
- Normal day-to-day activities – these could include anything considered ‘normal’ in a person's normal daily routine (e.g. shopping, reading and writing, having a conversation or using the telephone, watching television, getting washed and dressed, preparing and eating food, carrying out household tasks, walking and travelling by various forms of transport, and taking part in social activities)
If a person satisfies the above criteria, they will be classified as being disabled and will have automatic protection against discrimination. This means that they must not be treated unfavourably 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:
- 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 unfavourably because of their disability or their employer has failed to make reasonable adjustments it would potentially amount to disability discrimination. The first step to deal with this would be to raise a formal grievance using the employer’s own grievance procedure. If a claim in the employment tribunal is considered it must be made within 3 months of the date of the alleged discriminatory act taking place.
Does this answer your query?