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Failure to Make Reasonable Adjustments Discrimination

The Equality Act 2010 provides that employers are required to undertake regional adjustments in relation to employees, workers, contractors and the self-employed, as well as job applicants.

Employers are expected to consider reasonable adjustments when they know or could reasonably be expected to know that somebody is disabled within the definition of the Equality Act 2010. Employers are also required to consider reasonable adjustments when someone in their employment is disabled and having difficulties with their job, taking sickness absence for reasons linked to their disability, or when a particular member of staff or an applicant for work requests that reasonable adjustments be considered.

Reasonable Adjustments Failure

Employers who refuse or fail to make reasonable adjustments may face legal consequences. Employees who have been subjected to a failure to carry out reasonable adjustments can bring claims of disability discrimination to an employment tribunal. In determining whether or not an adjustment is reasonable, an employment tribunal will consider the financial and other costs involved, the disruption to the business in effecting that adjustment, the practicality of the adjustment, and its effectiveness in resolving the concerns.

Under the Equality Act 2010, in order to benefit from the protections relating to reasonable adjustments, an individual must be able to argue that they are suffering from a “disability”. A “disability” in this sense is a long lasting illness or impairment which has a substantial effect on an employee’s ability to carry out normal, daily activities. A “long term” impairment is one that has lasted or is expected to last for at least 12 months, or one that is continuing at the time of the assessment.

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Failure to Make Reasonable Adjustments Reading

Under the Equality Act, the duty on employers to make reasonable adjustments arises if:

  1. A physical feature of the premises occupied by the employer places a disabled person at a substantial disadvantage;
  2. A provision, criterion and or practise places a disabled person at a substantial disadvantage; or
  3. The lack of an auxiliary aid places a disabled person at a substantial disadvantage in comparison with job applicants and workers who are not disabled.

A failure to carry out reasonable adjustments can result in onerous financial penalties for employers which include compensation that can be obtained through the employment tribunals. This compensation is calculated with reference to an employee’s loss of salary and is not subject to any limit, as opposed to claims such as unfair dismissal, to which limits are applied. In addition, employees can recover compensation for their injury to feelings which can range anywhere between £500 and £58,700.

For disabled employees, reasonable adjustments can make a significant difference to their functionality in the workplace. Adjustments can enable individuals to contribute more effectively too the business and progress in their careers. Reasonable adjustments are a crucial component of UK employment law, ensuring that employees who are disabled within the definition of the Equality Act 2010 have a robust legal framework offering them protection.

Although the implementation of reasonable adjustments can sometimes carry with it, a cost in relation to obtaining a medical expert opinion, there are in fact, long term benefits for both the individuals concerned as well as the employers when increased productivity is the result. In this way, businesses are not only able to remain compliant with discrimination legislation, but also enhance their overall reputation and performance. Reasonable adjustments are not simply a legal requirement, they are also a practical strategy for building a more effective and equitable workplace.

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