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A recent Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) decision recognises the impact that workplace culture, a mixture of spoken and unspoken rules, can make people feel obliged to work in a particular way, even if it is disadvantageous to their health.

Failure to make reasonable adjustments 

In this case, an employee suffered a serious bike accident and consequently had to take several weeks off work. Prior to the accident, the employee had regularly worked long hours. Upon returning to work the employee continued to be affected by physical symptoms from the accident such as dizziness and difficulty with concentrating and working late in the evenings. Requests were made for the employee to work longer hours which progressed to an assumption that he would do so.

Provision criterion or practice

Under the Equality Act 2010, an employer is obliged to make reasonable adjustments when there is a Provision Criterion or Practice PCP which puts a disabled person at a substantial disadvantage compared with non-disabled person.

The employer’s expectation in this instance initially communicated as a request for the employee to work long hours, then based on an assumption that he would do so was sufficient to constitute a PCP.

Decision

The EAT held that an expectation for a disabled employee to work long hours amounted to a PCP for the purposes of a disability discrimination claim based on a failure to make reasonable adjustments.

Why is this decision important?

The decision in this case follows from my previous article on whether it is still disability discrimination if the employer is unaware that the employee is disabled. Employers should check with an employment law specialist when considering whether they should be making reasonable adjustments for employees that are experiencing health related work problems.

If you have any questions about disability discrimination in the workplace, call to speak to a specialist employment lawyer using the telephone numbers below.