The legislation is now well established to protect employees against being afforded treatment, by an employer, which is less favourable than the employer would treat other people, for reasons related to the person's disability and where the different treatment cannot be justified.

Such unfair treatment cannot be justified, if, by making a reasonable adjustment the employer could remove the reason for the unfair treatment. A disability is defined as a physical or mental impairment which has substantial and long term adverse impact on his or her ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.

This concept is radically different to the previously understood description of a disabled person. The legislation will now encompass many more different types of impairment and employers are encouraged to be extremely cautious in handling situations where the employees have an impairment, which is covered by the Act.

Reasonable adjustments involve, any step or steps that an employer could reasonably be expected to take to prevent work arrangements from putting a disabled person at a disadvantage, in comparison with an employee who is non-disabled.

Employees who consider that they have been unfairly discriminated against on the grounds of their disability can apply to an Employment Tribunal for a remedy.

There is no qualifying service necessary to bring an application of this nature before a Tribunal.

Awards for discrimination on the grounds of disability have no upper limit in the same way that all other discrimination awards may be made.

There is a Code of Practice issued by the government, which addresses the question of discrimination, including disability discrimination. The Equality Act specifically refers to the code as being admissible as evidence in proceedings and it is, therefore, essential that employers acquaint themselves with the essential provisions of the code and the guidance that goes with it.

 

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