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Case law: Employers need to clarify which of an employee’s impairments amount to a disability

Employers may need to press employees with multiple physical conditions to clarify which they allege are disabilities requiring them to consider ‘reasonable adjustments’, or risk having insufficient information to know whether employees are disabled or which adjustments it is reasonable to make.

Legal Alert

This update was published in Legal Alert - December 2014

Legal Alert is a monthly checklist from Atom Content Marketing highlighting new and pending laws, regulations, codes of practice and rulings that could have an impact on your business.

An employee claimed that her employer had not made reasonable adjustments for her disability. The employer claimed that the employee was not disabled or, if she was, it had not known about it. Someone is disabled if they have a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.

At a preliminary hearing, the employee gave oral evidence that she suffered from several different conditions. As a result, the Employment Tribunal (ET) ruled that she was disabled – although this evidence was different from statements in her claim form and from the answers she gave when her employer asked for more information.

The employer appealed on the basis that the ET had not identified the precise physical impairment(s) amounting to a disability. Without that information it was not possible to assess whether it knew or ought to have known the employee was disabled and, if it did, what reasonable adjustments it should have made.

The Employment Appeal Tribunal agreed that the ET needed to identify the impairment(s) amounting to a disability and remitted the issue back to the ET to do so.

Operative date

  • Now

Recommendations

  • Employers should ensure they identify all alleged impairments claimed by an employee, and investigate which amount to a disability (ie have a substantial and adverse long-term effect on their day-to-day activities). Otherwise they risk having insufficient information to investigate whether there is a disability and to decide which, if any, adjustments are reasonable to make.

Case ref: Morgan Stanley International v Posavec UKEAT/0209/13/BA


Disclaimer: This article from Atom Content Marketing is for general guidance only, for businesses in the United Kingdom governed by the laws of England. Atom Content Marketing, expert contributors and ICAEW (as distributor) disclaim all liability for any errors or omissions.

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