Disability Discrimination

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A person 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.“ Long-term” means that the condition lasts (or is likely to last) for a minimum of 12 months.

Disability discrimination rules also covers anyone with multiple sclerosis (MS), HIV/AIDS or cancer from the date of diagnosis and anyone with a mental illness, whether or not the illness is clinically well recognised.

What do you as an employer have to do?

Employers must make reasonable adjustments, in terms of the size of the organisation, to the work environment in order to accommodate any disabled employees. The adjustments may include:

  • changes to hours of work, including allowing time off needed for treatment
  • altering the physical layout of the workplace
  • creating different duties for the employee(s)
  • the provision of additional training and/or supervision for the employee(s)

 Pre-employment medical questionnaires

Employers cannot give employees pre-employment medical questionnaires. But, certain health-related questions can be asked if there are legitimate reasons such as:

  • monitoring diversity and equality and taking positive action where necessary
  • making informed decisions on any reasonable adjustments that must be made
  • to establish if the job candidate has a disability where the job requires the employee to have one
  • deciding whether or not the applicant is appropriate for the job and able to carry out any duties that require a certain level of health or physical ability
  • the need to clarify the responsibilities of all staff and management with regard to disabled employees

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