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Case law: Employers should consider all reasonable adjustments for a disabled employee, not just those suggested by the employee

Employers should consider all reasonable steps which would reduce the disadvantages suffered by a disabled employee because of their disability, not just the steps the employee asks for, following a recent ruling.

Legal Alert

This update was published in Legal Alert - March 2017

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.

A disabled employee asked to work a 36-hour week over four days, rather than five, as her disability meant she was struggling with her workload. Her employer gave her the same amount of work to do in that compressed period as it had given her before, putting her at a substantial disadvantage compared to her colleagues who were not disabled, as she had to work longer hours. She claimed disability discrimination.

Employers must make 'reasonable adjustments' for disabled employees to alleviate the effects of their disadvantage. They may have to change how things are done, make physical changes at work, or provide equipment or help to the employee. Whether an adjustment is 'reasonable' depends on the circumstances.

The Employment Appeal Tribunal found that a reasonable adjustment in this case would have been to reduce the employee's workload in order to remove the disadvantage she suffered because of her disability. It rejected the employer's argument that she had not asked for a reduced workload - that was irrelevant. It was the employer's responsibility to identify and take reasonable steps to reduce the disadvantages she suffered and it was clear that the steps it had taken - even though the employee had asked for them - did not do this.

Operative date

  • Now

Recommendation

  • Employers should ensure they consider all reasonable steps to reduce the disadvantages suffered by a disabled employee because of their disability, and not just the steps the employee asks for

Case ref: The Home Office (UK Visas & Immigration) v Kuranchie UKEAT/0202/16/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.