With Acas launching a new advice line to help disabled people understand their rights at work, a client wants to know how this could affect them and what their obligations are currently towards their disabled employees.
The Acas initiative explains how the law protects disabled people from discrimination at work and sets out the basic rights to which they are entitled. It emphasises that disabled people have at least the same rights to fairness and opportunity at work as other employees, workers and job applicants and that they are protected from unlawful discrimination by the Equality Act 2010.
Advice on the hub includes tips on how to prevent disability discrimination, how to make reasonable adjustments and how employees can raise complaints about disability discrimination at work. It also includes sections on supporting mental health at work and on employing people at high risk from Covid-19.
This initiative may highlight certain issues that disabled workers face in the workplace and could potentially leave employers vulnerable to costly disability discrimination claims. Your client is therefore advised to have better consideration for their disabled workers. This may mean updating or implementing policies on this topic. It could also mean reviewing workplace practices and seeing if reasonable adjustments can be made for disabled workers.
Your client has a duty to make reasonable adjustments when a workplace feature or practice puts a worker with a disability at a disadvantage if they are aware, or could be expected to know, that an employee has a disability. These could include a variety of options, such as changing working hours or enabling flexible working, allowing for specially adapted equipment, or altering the demands of a job. Whilst not all adjustments will be possible, your client will be expected to demonstrate that these options were considered if later defending a discrimination claim.
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