Under UK employment law outlined in the Equality Act 2010, employers are forbidden from discriminating against people because they have a disability. The employment law of the UK says that employers can only ask about a person’s disabilities or health concerns in the following circumstances:
- If this helps employers determine whether a person can undertake tasks that are a vital part of the job
- To determine if a person can participate in an interview
- To allow interviewers to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ for a candidate during the selection process
- If employers wish to increase the number of people with disabilities they have in their workforce
- If this information is required for national security checks
- If the information is needed to assist in monitoring
Unless exemptions apply, employment law says that employers may not ask about an applicant’s health conditions until the applicant has been offered a job, and determining whether reasonable adjustments are required is one of these exceptions.
Furthermore, if someone becomes disabled while they are in employment, employers are not allowed to dismiss them for this reason, unless the disability means it is impossible for the employee to continue in their employment and no reasonable adjustments can be made to allow them to do so.
Reasonable adjustments include:
- Flexible or part time work
- Phased reintroductions to the workplace
- Tasking another employee with activities the disabled person is unable to perform
- Providing technical equipment and practical aids to the employee
- Changing room layouts and lighting
- Providing assistance to candidates, such as walking them to their seat
- Allowing candidates to use computers for written assignments
- Altering interview processes, such as by providing extra time or working interviews
- Transferring employees that have developed disabilities to other roles
- Providing additional training to disabled employees
- Adapting existing work equipment
- Changing procedures or instructions
- Improving communication systems
The need to make reasonable adjustments for particular employees must never be a reason to pass over an employee for a promotion or dismiss a worker.
Employees that expect their employers to make reasonable adjustments for their disabilities will have to provide the employer with enough detail to enable them to carry out these adjustments. Employers must treat this information confidentially. Employers only have to make reasonable adjustments if they could reasonably be considered to be aware that an employee has health problems or a disability. However, when they become aware of this, they should behave in a positive and proactive manner to make all required adjustments, and should discuss the proposed adjustments with the member of staff to ensure they are effective.
Reasonable adjustments were introduced to UK employment law to ensure that people with disabilities have the same opportunities as other people in applying for jobs and remaining in employment.
UK employment law allows people to claim compensation against employers that do not make reasonable adjustments through the Employment Tribunal.