A BRIEF OUTLINE OF
THE DISABILITY DISCRIMINATION ACT 1995
LEGAL REQUIREMENTS ON AN EMPLOYER
TO MAKE ADJUSTMENTS WHEN PROVIDING EMPLOYMENT FOR A PERSON WITH DISABILITY
The Disabled Persons (Employment) Act 1944 requires the employers with twenty or more employees to employ a quota, approximately 30%, of disabled persons, and the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 section 4 makes it unlawful for an employer with more fifteen or more employees to discriminate against a disabled person on ground of his disability by treating him less favourably in the arrangements made for determining who to employ or in the terms on which to offer him employment or by refusing to offer him employment or by deliberately not offering him employment -except where justifiable on grounds of health and safety, and the Act requires the employers to make reasonable adjustments to and at the place of work as and when needed by the disabled employees.
Disability is defined as being such physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long term (twelve months or longer) adverse effect on a person's ability to carry out the normal day-to-day activities -such as walking, lifting objects, speaking, hearing, seeing, concentrating, learning, understanding.
The Act does not provide for indirect discrimination, and case-law since have been on the lines that there is no duty on the employer of a disabled person to inquire into details of the disability, nor is he at fault in law for failure to take into account knowledge of the disability or of the details of it which he neither has nor ought reasonably to have, and it is for the disabled applicant or the employee to inform of them the employer at the earliest practicable time; but the employer of a disabled person must neither fail upon such knowledge to make reasonable adjustments needed for the applicant or the employee, nor disregard in relation to the disabled employee any medical advice or suggestion.
In Fozard -v- Greater Manchester Police Authority 1997 the applicant had ticked the relevant box stating that she had a special need of assistance due to disability which was not given her -it was held that the onus was on her to give details of it; the employers, the police authority, had not failed in their obligations to make adjustments under the Act...
In O'Neill -v- Symm & Co. 1998, the disabled employee dismissed for taking time off for treatment which she was entitled to do ought to informed the employer of her condition…
In Tarling -v- Wisdom Toothbrushes 1997 the disabled employee had been unfairly dismissed, for, a needed special chair for back-pain although looked into was not bought…
In Samuels -v- Wesleyan Society 1977 employer's thinking the disabled employee was unlikely to recover was in disregard of medical advice to try him and see if could work.
Adjustments by the Act considered reasonable and expected to be made by the employer include ramps for wheel-chair users, allocating some of the disabled employee's work to another, as needed transferring, assigning to a different place of work, altering working hours, allowing absences for treatment, giving extra training, modifying equipment or instructions or procedures, providing a reader or interpreter, and providing supervision.
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