How to prevent disability discrimination in your business
The Equality Act 2010 addresses disability discrimination in the workplace. Certain conditions are automatically covered by the legislation from the point of diagnosis, including cancer, HIV and multiple sclerosis. Otherwise, protection is granted to those with a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities. The law also protects employees who are discriminated against because of the disability of a family member, friend or other people they associate with.
Disability discrimination law can be complex, so it is important to consult with a specialist disability discrimination lawyer if you believe this is happening in your business.
Types of disability discrimination
Direct discrimination at work occurs where a person is treated less favourably because of their disability
Discrimination arising from disability – where someone is treated unfavourably because of something arising in consequence of their disability, unless this treatment can be objectively justified. It is not necessary to compare the treatment with someone else
Indirect discrimination is where a provision, criterion or practice disadvantages people with a disability – including the individual concerned – compared to those without that disability, unless the provision is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim
Failure to make reasonable adjustments is discriminatory when a provision, criterion or practice is applied, or a physical feature of premises exists, which substantially disadvantages a disabled person. Employers are obliged to make reasonable adjustments such as installing equipment, reallocating duties or changing workplace polices
Harassment is unwanted conduct related to disability which has the purpose or effect of violating a person’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment. The harassment need not be because of the person’s own disability for it to be unlawful. There is no defence of justification in respect of harassment
Victimisation where someone is treated less favourably because of action they have taken under or in connection with the legislation. For example, if someone formally complains of disability discrimination at work or supports someone who is complaining of disability discrimination in the workplace
How we help employers prevent disability discrimination at work
Disability discrimination at work is complex and it can be difficult for employers to understand their duties and obligations in relation to disability discrimination law. We can help you put together best practice procedures to prevent unintentional disability discrimination in your organisation. We can also provide training on dealing with long-term sickness absence and how to make reasonable adjustments if someone’s disability makes it difficult or impossible to continue in their role. There is no justification for failing to make reasonable adjustments, so it is vital to get this right.