Top 5 Tips to Avoid Disability Discrimination

There has been a lot of press coverage lately, certainly in HR related articles, regarding disabilities and disability discrimination. It can be a very contentious subject, with business owners not always sure what the right thing to do is, whilst the employee maybe concerned about their ability to keep working and brining in a wage. This Top Tips Article looks at trying to take some of the myths away surrounding good disability practices.

  • No 1 What is a Disability?
    The Equality Act 2010 details certain protected characteristics, which by law, should not be discriminated against, this includes “disability”. The act goes on to determine someone as being disabled if they “have a physical or mental impairment that has substantial and long term negative effect on your ability to do normal daily activities”.

    To round up or summarise it is illegal to discriminate against someone with a disability.

  • No 2 – What is Discrimination?
    It is a subjective term compounded, when someone perceives their condition to be a disability when it may not be. (see above). As an employer you cannot discriminate against an employee or potential employee because of a disability. The Equality Act goes on to refence the following areas that need to be considered so as not to discriminate;
    • terms of employment, including pay
    • promotion, transfer and training opportunities
    • dismissal or redundancy
    • discipline and grievances
    • Recruitment & Selection including – application forms, interview arrangements, aptitude or proficiency tests and job offers
  • No 3 – Reasonable Adjustments
    If you are notified that an employee has a disability or looking to employ someone with a disability the simplest and easiest way to discharge your responsibilities and support that individual is to ask them how you can help (NB it may not always be appropriate and depends on the condition and the individual). The phrase to consider using is “what reasonable adjustments can be made”. The term “reasonable adjustments” refers to what you as an employer can do to help the person with a disability to avoid them being put at a disadvantage compared to a non-disabled person within the workplace. Reasonable adjustments could include;
    • Changing working hours
    • Purchasing a specialist piece of equipment
    • Making physical changes to the work place – ramps, handles etc
    • Changing working practices and processes
    It is a good idea to agree and record what adjustments are made and to regularly review them.
  • No 4 – Return to Work
    If someone has been off work for a long period and is returning to work with a disability it may be appropriate to consider a phased return to work which means an employee starting back on reduced hours before building up to their original hours. Consider offering light duties which may mean offering desk or computer based worked for someone who is usually very active. Whatever you do ensure that it is agreed with the individual, recorded and monitored.
  • No 5 –Less Than 2 Years’ Service
    It is important to remember that although claims for unfair dismissal and constructive dismissal cannot usually be made by an employee with less than 2 years service, claims for disability discrimination can be made at any time regardless of length of service.

If you would like any more information regarding this subject, assistance in developing your HR Policies or any area of HR support, HR advice, HR consulting please get in contact.

Contact us
HR Consultancy