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Case law: Employee disabled because of inability to carry out 'normal day-to-day activity' at work that would not be normal at home

Employers should note that, for the purposes of disability discrimination law, work carried out as part of an employee's job can amount to 'normal day-to-day activity', even if that activity would not be normal outside work.

Legal Alert

This update was published in Legal Alert - March 2016

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 is disabled for discrimination law purposes 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'.

A picker in a distribution centre had a long-term back problem which meant he could not manually lift items weighing 25kg onto pallets at work. However, he was able to carry out normal day-to-day activities outside work, such as shopping. The issue arose whether lifting such heavy weights at work amounted to 'normal day-to-day activities' so that he was disabled for the purposes of disability discrimination law.

Lifting 25kg items is not something usually done at home, and would be beyond the ability of many people. On the other hand, lifting such weights was a day-to-day activity for warehouse workers generally.

The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) ruled that as warehouse work normally involved lifting items of that weight, doing so was a normal day-to-day activity for the purpose of disability discrimination law. As the employee's back problem meant he could not carry out these activities he was therefore disabled for the purposes of disability discrimination law.

The decision makes clear that 'normal day-to-day activities' means activities carried out day-to-day at work, not simply normal activities outside work, such as shopping.

The EAT warned that only the activity itself was relevant – in this case, the lifting of items above a certain weight. The question of whether the employee was capable of meeting targets such as the employer's 'pick rate' - which required him to move 210 items per hour – was irrelevant.

Operative date

  • Now

Recommendations

  • Employers should be aware that work carried out as part of an employee's job can amount to 'normal day-to-day activity' for the purposes of disability discrimination law, even if it would not be normal outside work

Case ref: Banaszczyk v Booker Ltd [2016] UKEAT 0132_15_0102

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