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Disability in the Workplace

A topic all employers need to be thoroughly clued-up on is disability in the workplace. According to the Equality Act 2010, an individual is disabled if they have a physical or mental impairment which has a significantly adverse and long-term effect on their capacity to carry out typical day-to-day activities.

Employers need to ensure they do not conduct any form of discrimination. Discrimination based on disability comes in various forms: Direct, indirect, harassment, victimisation, failure to make ‘reasonable adjustments’, and discrimination arising from disability.

According to the University of Leicester, reasonable adjustment refers to ‘a change or adaptation to the physical or working environment that has the effect of removing or minimising the impact of the individual’s impairment in the workplace so they are able to undertake their job duties.’ A reasonable adjustment may involve implementing wheelchair ramps, or making appropriate changes so that an individual can get to their workplace easily.

It Is important to remember that mental health issues may also lead to a need for change at work. For example, an individual suffering from mental health issues may require flexible working hours or a different working environment.

Additionally, it is the employer’s responsibility to guarantee reasonable adjustments will be put in place when needed. Employers are encouraged to acquire advice from health care professionals when deciding what adjustments need to be enforced. However, it must be remembered that the focus is on the employee’s capability to function on a day-to-day basis, as opposed to focusing on the medical diagnosis. Moreover, employers must ensure they only ask the appropriate questions regarding a health condition/disability during the suitable phase of hiring.

If you have a disability…

It is possible that you will be asked whether you have a health condition or disability on an application form or during an interview. You can only be asked about your health or disability:

  • To aid the decision as to whether or not you can carry out a task that is a crucial aspect of the job.
  • To help decide if you can partake in an interview.
  • To help employers decide if reasonable adjustments need to be made for you during the selection process.
  • To help with monitoring.
  • If the company wishes to increase the number of people with disabilities that they employ.
  • If the employer needs to know for the purposes of national security checks.

If you have a concern regarding disability in the workplace, seek guidance. Occupational health professionals can offer a lot of help to employers as to how to deal with difficult situations.

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