Reasonable Adjustments for Disability

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In December 2018 the following case was brought to the EAT (Employment Appeals Tribunal): Mrs M Linsley v Commissioners for Her Majesty’s Revenue and Custom: UKEAT/0150/18/JOJ, 7 December 2018.

The employee, Mrs Linsley, suffers from ulcerative colitis, which is identified as a disability. She was allocated a dedicated parking space based on the adjustment recommendations in an Occupational Health report in 2012. The Company’s parking Policy gives priority to staff with disabilities, making it a reasonable adjustment, this meant that Mrs Linsley was able to have a parking spot. The report and the following reports produced also recommended that she have easy access to toilets and highlighted that stress was a trigger for a bout of illness.

When Mrs Linsley was moved to a new building the parking process became more complicated. She was allowed to park in a disabled space by the toilets on another site, but only if she couldn’t find one next to the building. This meant she had to drive around looking before she could park, then she would have to fill in some paperwork in the office. Alternatively she had permission to park in an unauthorised area but then had to move her car later. The added stress of driving around and trying to park in the morning meant that she became ill and went off sick with stress.

Mrs Linsley brought a claim for disability discrimination against HMRC on the grounds that they had failed to make reasonable adjustments in accordance with the Equality Act 2010.

The original Tribunal held that the Company had made the appropriate reasonable adjustments by providing an alternative parking spot and they hadn’t failed to comply with their own Policy. However after taking the claim to the Employment Appeal Tribunal, they held that the Tribunal had been wrong in its approach to reasonable adjustments:
  • HMRC had not considered the impact of the stress of looking for parking spots on her condition
  • HMRC had failed in following their policy because they had not provided a reason for why they had changed the parking arrangement
When looking at what reasonable adjustments should be made, it is important to research the disability thoroughly, look beyond the most obvious side effects, read between the lines and other symptoms that could potentially develop. Up to date Occupational Health reports will aid you in finding solutions as well as suggestions. And finally ensure your managers are well versed on what adjustments should be made keeping in line with legislation to keep out of court.

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