Advice on Disability Discrimination Law

Advice on Disability Discrimination Law

Under current disability legislation:

How does this affect UCU members?

What is a disability?

Access to Work scheme

Declaring a disability

Adjustments for the employer to consider

When might an adjustment be reasonable?

How does an employer decide what is reasonable

Establishing discrimination

If a staff member and an employer can’t agree

More advice and information

External links

Advice on Disability Discrimination Law

Please note that this is not a definitive guide to the law.  In individual cases, further advice should be sought from UCU.

Discrimination on the grounds of disability is unlawful under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA), which covers employment, education, goods and services, and premises.

The Disability Equality Duty (DED) is a new legal duty, introduced by the Disability Discrimination Act 2005, which means that every public body (including colleges and universities) will need to look actively at ways of promoting disability equality and eliminating discrimination and harassment. Such bodies are required to set out their plans in a Disability Equality Scheme, which must be publicly available. More information is available at www.ucu.org.uk/media/pdf/0/t/ded_guidance_1.pdf

Under current disability legislation:

How does this affect UCU members?

If a member is disabled or has had a disability the DDA makes it unlawful for an employer to discriminate against him/her when he/she is applying for a job or is already in employment. This includes:

What is a disability?

It is important to be aware that a disability may not always be obvious to other people. There is no automatic link between ill health and disability. Like non-disabled people, disabled people may be healthy or ill. There is no reason for disabled staff to have more (or fewer) accidents than others, if the adjustments for safe working are made. Much of what is useful for disabled staff is also valuable for non-disabled colleagues. Many disabled people do not have any additional access requirements. For those who do require additional support, government grants are available through the Access to Work scheme (more information on this scheme is below).

A disabled person is defined in the DDA as: ‘someone who has a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on his or her ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities’.

This is likely to cover:

In addition, people who are registered blind are automatically covered, as are people with severe disfigurements, and people with HIV, cancer and multiple sclerosis are covered from the point of diagnosis.

Access to Work scheme

The Jobcentre Plus’s Access to Work scheme provides practical support to disabled people in paid employment, or seeking to enter paid employment, to help overcome work-related obstacles caused by disability. Access to Work is open to employed, unemployed and self-employed disabled people. It provides a grant towards additional employment costs resulting from disability. The scheme can help in a number of ways, for example:

It also provides specialist help and advice to employers, including recruiting disabled people and retaining employees who become disabled. More information can be found on the Access to Work website:

www.jobcentreplus.gov.uk/JCP/Customers/outofworkhelplookingforwork/Getting_job_ready/Programmes_to_get_you_ready/Dev_014875.xml.html

Declaring a disability

It is up to the employee whether he or she chooses to tell their employer about any disability. However, if their disability affects their way of working, they are advised to talk to their employer and colleagues if they want a reasonable adjustment to be considered.

Adjustments for the employer to consider

Examples of adjustments:

When might an adjustment be reasonable?

In considering whether an adjustment would be reasonable or not, the employer will need to consider:

If considering making a request for an adjustment remind the employer of the following:

How does an employer decide what is reasonable

Ultimately, if someone were to complain under the DDA, an employment tribunal would decide whether any adjustment was a reasonable one for the employer to make. It would also be up to the tribunal to decide if an employer’s treatment of a staff member was justified or not.

Establishing discrimination

There are a number of questions to be asked when establishing whether an employer has unlawfully discriminated against a person defined as disabled within the terms of the DDA:

If a staff member and an employer can’t agree

If a staff member believes that the employer has treated him/her less favourably or if the employer has not made reasonable adjustments, the staff member may consider further action. This action might include:

More advice and information

There is more information available from the Equality section of the UCU website at www.ucu.org.uk/index.cfm?articleid=1868, including a regular newsletter - Equality News. Specific guidance for branch officers can be found in the Equality Resource Centre in the UCU Activists section of the website at www.ucu.org.uk/index.cfm?articleid=2131.

Members with concerns about a disability equality issue should contact their UCU branch/local association (LA) equality officer. If you don't know how to contact any local UCU representative, ask your regional office – contact details are on the website at www.ucu.org.uk/index.cfm?articleid=2057. The regional office finder at www.ucu.org.uk/index.cfm?articleid=2229 will tell you the relevant regional office for your institution.

UCU’s Equality Unit has an equality officer with special responsibility for disability equality, who can provide advice and support for branch/LA officers and members where necessary. See the Equality Unit page on the website at www.ucu.org.uk/index.cfm?articleid=1940 for contact information.

 

External links

 

Equality and Human Rights Commission  www.equalityhumanrights.com  

EHRC Helpline Wales

Freepost RRLR-UEYB-UYZL

3rd Floor, 3 Callaghan Square

Cardiff  CF10 5BT

0845 604 8810 - Wales main number

0845 604 8820 - Wales textphone

0845 604 8830 - Wales fax

Monday - Friday 8:00 am-6:00 pm

Email: waleshelpline@equalityhumanrights.com

 

ACAS Equality page www.acas.org.uk/index.aspx?articleid=1363

 

Equality Challenge Unit  www.ecu.ac.uk