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An employers' duty to make reasonable adjustments for disabled employees
- AuthorHoward Robson
In a recent case heard by the Employment Appeal Tribunal Mr Carreras (the Claimant) brought a claim for constructive dismissal and disability discrimination after his employer failed to make reasonable adjustments for his disability.
The Claimant was a high performing analyst at an independent brokerage and research firm. The high pressured nature of his job meant that the Claimant often worked long hours and stayed late to complete his work. Due to fatigue and dizziness after a serious bicycle accident, the Claimant found it hard to work for long periods of time and struggled with the late hours.
Upon returning to work the Claimant worked an eight hour day, but was concerned that he would be penalised for not working the same long hours as his colleagues. He spoke to his manager and asked to only occasionally work late when it was necessary in order to complete work. The Claimant was later asked which days he could work late on a frequent basis with disregard to the previous conversation and without discussing whether he was prepared to work late at all.
The Claimant, in a discussion with the employer, explained that he was struggling to cope with the long hours expected of him. He was then told, in front of colleagues, that if he wasn’t coping he should leave.
The Claimant brought a claim for constructive dismissal and disability discrimination. The Employment Appeal Tribunal agreed that the employer had failed to make reasonable adjustments and held that the Claimant was subject to a disadvantage when compared with able-bodied colleagues as a result of his disability.
Due to the nature of the business and the apparent expectation of his employer, the Claimant felt obligated to work late. Howard Robson, Partner in the Employment team, explains “Employers are required to make reasonable adjustments for employees suffering from a disability – there will need to be flexibility to reasonably accommodate their requirements. Employers should maintain an open line of communication with the employer to ensure they are supported”
He continues; “If an employee has been absent for a long period of time, it’s a good idea to hold a return to work meeting to discuss what the employee believes they are capable of, and how they will cope with the expectation of the role.”
This is for information purposes only and is no substitute for, and should not be interpreted as, legal advice. All content was correct at the time of publishing and we cannot be held responsible for any changes that may invalidate this article.