The Equality Act 2010
The Equality Act 2010 prohibits discrimination and against people with a number of protected characteristics, disability being one of these.
Guidance on eligibility can be found at:
The Equality Act 2010 defines a person as having a disability if he or she has a physical or mental impairment and this has a substantial and long term adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.
A disability can arise from a wide range of impairments which can be sensory (affecting sight or hearing), fluctuating or recurring (rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia), progressive (motor neurone disease), developmental (such as autism, dyslexia and dyspraxia), mental health conditions (such as anxiety, depression, bipolar affective disorder) and organ specific such as respiratory conditions.
In broad terms the act makes it unlawful for employers to discriminate against workers (including job applicants) on grounds of medical disability. It also requires all reasonable steps be taken to accommodate their health problems, which is a form of positive discrimination in favour of preserving employment opportunities.
Occupational physicians need a good working knowledge of the legislation and we aim to help employers to decide whether it is likely a person would fall under the remit of the Equality Act, and if so what adjustments would be needed (both for good practice in sustaining employment/returning a person to employment and also to fulfill legal obligations). We ensure that advice is kept up-to-date in view of recent legal developments (such as the Employment Appeal Tribunal's decision in Griffiths versus Department for Work and Pensions to adjudicate on whether employers have to amend sickness absence trigger points for disabled employees).
Workplace adjustments can be temporary or made on a permanent basis. Our occupational health company can advise on adjustments following an occupational health referral. The following list is a guide and not-exhaustive.
Adjustments to premises
- moving tasks to more accessible areas
- making alterations to premises
Adjustments to a job
- providing new or modifying existing equipment and tools
- modifying work furniture providing additional training
- modifying instructions or reference manuals
- modifying work patterns and management systems
- arranging telephone conferences to reduce travel
- providing a buddy or mentor
- providing supervision
- reallocating work within the employee's team
- providing alternative work
- allowing a phased return to work
- changing individual's working hours
- providing help with transport to and from work
- arranging home working
- allowing absence from work for treatment
- Graded resumption of responsibilities
- Re-familiarisation training
- Temporary reduction of workload
- Management appraisal or progress reports
- Scheduled or self-requested medical review