Below, our employment law solicitors answer employees’ questions on the law relating to disability at work.
No. Employers must not ask about health and sickness when deciding who to recruit – but they are allowed to ask questions in order to:
It is for the employer to show that any questions they ask are justified.
A question about your number of sick days would not normally be justified.
If you are considered to be disabled as set out by the Equality Act 2010 and your employer knows about this, or ought to know, then your employer is required to make reasonable adjustments to help you at work.
You could be disabled under the Equality Act, if your dyslexia is so severe as to have a substantially adverse effect on your ability to carry out day-to-day activities. Reading would be a day-to-day activity as well as a work activity. If you have mild dyslexia this might not result in your disability being substantially adverse enough to meet this threshold.
It is sensible for you to have an assessment particularly if it is not clear whether you are disabled or not, under the Equality Act. An employer might also refer you to Occupational Health as a matter of best practice. For example, if you have been off sick from work for some time, or if you have long term health problems.
An Occupational Health adviser might be a nurse or a doctor. They will talk to you about your sickness and how it affects your work. They should produce a medical report stating whether in their opinion you might be disabled and what, if anything they believe your employer should be doing to support you at work.
When your employer makes a referral to Occupational Health they should obtain your written consent and also provide you with a statement of your rights.
This depends upon why you have been referred but in most cases the Occupational Health adviser is likely to ask you about your current illness:
It is also sensible to tell the Occupational Health adviser how your illness is affecting your ability to carry out day-to-day activities. This will lead the Occupational Health specialist to assess more accurately whether she or he thinks you are disabled.
Yes. As an employee you are entitled to see the report before it is sent to your employer and you are entitled to suggest changes, but not insist on them. You may refuse to allow the Occupational Health physician to disclose the report to your employer. For example, if it is factually incorrect. However, it is usually the case that adviser would check and amend.
Employers are required to make reasonable adjustments within a reasonable timescale from receiving the report.
You should ask your employer for a meeting to discuss the Occupational Health report and ask them to confirm what they are doing to put in place the adjustments. If your employer is not listening to you, or if your employer is acting with undue delay, then you should raise a grievance.
Adjustments can take three forms:
Firstly, employers must take reasonable steps to provide
In those circumstances, the law requires your employer to “take such steps as it is reasonable” to avoid that disadvantage so that you can continue to work. Reasonable adjustments can therefore include:
Whether a particular adjustment is reasonable depends upon all of the circumstances.
See our factsheet on reasonable adjustments.
If an adjustment is reasonable then an employer cannot refuse to make it. It may be unreasonable if the cost is too high, or the adjustment would be too difficult to implement in practice. If you believe that your employer is refusing to make reasonable adjustments then you should raise a grievance and seek legal advice.
No, not unless your employer has agreed to do this, or has a policy saying that they must do so. The purpose of reasonable adjustments is to allow disabled employees to be able to stay in work – it does not guarantee full pay.
If your absences are due to a disability then your employer might be at risk of a discrimination claim if it issues warnings. Your employer must be able to show that any disciplinary sanctions are “objectively justified”, taking into account the frequency and duration of your absences and earlier sanctions.