Under the Equality Act 2010 (which replaced the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 in England, Wales and Scotland) and the Disability Discrimination Order 2006 in Northern Ireland, it is unlawful for an employer to treat a disabled employee, or potential employee, less favourably than others by:
Individuals who suffer from stress of mental illness will have to prove that the disability has a substantial and long-term effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities. A person who has recovered from a disability remains protected. Long-term means that the disability has continued or is expected to continue for at least one year.
Concern was raised about the evacuation of a wheelchair user who was working on the third floor of a building. A personal emergency evacuation plan was devised in consultation with the employee and was incorporated into the general evacuation plan. This involved colleagues providing the employee with assistance in an emergency evacuation where the lift could not be used (note that some lifts can be used in the case of an emergency). The agreed strategy requires the employee to move independently to a fire-safe refuge space from where appointed staff members could provide assistance using an emergency evacuation chair. Appropriate training in the use of emergency equipment and in manual handling techniques was provided. Account was taken of annual leave requirements so that adequate staff would always be present to effect the evacuation. The evacuation is practised as part of the regular fire drill routine.
An IT worker who developed schizophrenia, wished to return to work after a period of extended leave. The employer sought advice regarding revision of duties. The individual was able to return to work in a project team where he was supported and able to work at his own pace. He started working three days a week and gradually phased himself back into full-time employment. The employer also arranged for the worker's colleagues and supervisor to attend mental health awareness training.
As a result of a head injury, a telephone sales consultant had difficulties in hearing. Sound absorbing partitions were installed to reduce noise and distractions at her workstation and her telephone ring tone was reprogrammed so that she could hear when her phone was ringing. She was also supplied with a vibrating pager, which could be activated to alert her in the event of an emergency.
A call-centre worker, whose work involved prolonged sitting, developed severe back pain. Advice was sought from an occupational physician regarding revision of the employee's duties. A recommendation was made to the employer to purchase a desk that rises up and down, enabling the employee to sit, change position or stand, whilst continuing to work.
A trainee hotel chef who had a learning disability was required to undergo training in the safe use of a variety of kitchen equipment. A number of adjustments were made to assist with this training, including the revision of the training manual, and the offer of additional tutoring and study time.