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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 77829
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor
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It’s on behalf of my mother. She has long covid and is

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It’s on behalf of my mother. She has long covid and is classed as being disabled. She has had to return to work for money reasons and she was told that work would make adjustments to help her with her covid pneumonia and condition. However in the time she has been back, they haven’t catered to her needs at all, attempting to increase her hours, brushing off her complaints and being unreasonable. She works in a customer service office and struggles with her breathing when speaking so asked to be on emails, which they have put other people on, but they have refused her and allowed her to struggle. Is there any legal implications or routes we could go down because they are blatantly ignoring their duty of care to her
JA: Where is she? It matters because laws vary by location.
Customer: England, north east
JA: What steps has she taken so far?
Customer: she has gone through a healthcare sector in the work place who agreed she should be being catered to but nothing has changed, she got a letter from her GP advising not to put her on the phones and she has attended meetings with her team leader attempting to explain that she cannot manage, however she gets brushed off and nothing changes
JA: Is there anything else the Lawyer should know before I connect you? Rest assured that they'll be able to help you.
Customer: no
Hello, I’m Ben, a solicitor, and it’s my pleasure to assist you. I may ask for some preliminary information to help me determine the legal position.

I understand your query relates to your mother's employer not making adjustments to accommodate the health related difficulties she has been experiencing. Please tell me what adjustments needs to be made?

Customer: replied 13 days ago.
She has asked to go on emails rather than on the phone, which is a role that has been given to other people on her team so is available, due to her being breathless it is difficult for her to talk on the phone all day. She also was promised reduced hours, however they have attempted to increase these hours
Customer: replied 13 days ago.
Her Doctors letter advised not to put her on the phones and this has been disregarded

Thank you, ***** ***** her employer's occupational health carried out their own assessment at all?

Customer: replied 13 days ago.
they agreed that she shouldn’t be on the phones but her boss has said they won’t put her on any other role and to keep her on the phone

OK I understand, and how long has she worked there for?

Customer: replied 13 days ago.
25 years

Thank you. So what specifically would you like to ask about this please, so that I can best advise?

Customer: replied 13 days ago.
Whether there is a legal side she could argue to get some kind of help in the workplace

OK I understand and thank you for providing this information. Please do not worry and leave it with me for now. I will get back to you with my full reply on here; usually the same day. The system will notify you when this happens. Many thanks.

Customer: replied 13 days ago.
Thank you

No problem at all. I will get back to you at the earliest opportunity. Many thanks

Many thanks for your patience, it is appreciated. I am now pleased to be able to provide further assistance with your query. First of all, I am sorry to hear about the issues brought up by this. It must be a frustrating situation to be going through.

Her rights will largely depend on whether she is classified as being disabled in law. The legal definition of a ‘disability’ can have a broad meaning and there is no single list of medical conditions that can qualify. Potentially, any condition or ailment can amount to a disability if it meets the required criteria.

Those criteria are contained in The Equality Act 2010, which 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 below:

- Physical or mental impairment – this can include practically any medical condition, be it a physical or mental impairment

- 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)

Please also take a look at this detailed guide on determining if you are disabled:

https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/work/discrimination-at-work/checking-if-its-discrimination/check-if-youre-disabled-under-the-equality-act/

If a person satisfies the necessary criteria, they will be classified as being disabled in a legal sense 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 common 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, that would potentially amount to disability discrimination, which is unlawful. The first step to try and deal with this would be to raise a formal grievance.

If the grievance does not have the desired effect and the discrimination continues, a claim may have to be made for disability discrimination in the Employment Tribunal. The most important requirement with that is it must be submitted within 3 months of the alleged discriminatory act taking place. The next steps to start the process would be to initiate what is known as an ‘early conciliation’ procedure through ACAS, either online by filling in the following form (https://tell.acas.org.uk/find-a-solution-to-your-employment-dispute), or by phone on 0300(###) ###-####

Hopefully, I have answered your query in a way that is simple and easy to understand. If anything remains unclear, I will be more than happy to clarify it for you. In the meantime, thank you once again for using our services.

Customer: replied 13 days ago.
That’s great thank you very much

You are most welcome. If you have any further questions about this, please do not hesitate to get back to me and I will be happy to help. All the best.

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