Your rights and discrimination
The Equality Act 2010 means it is against the law to discriminate against disabled people when in work, including their terms and conditions, benefits, opportunities for promotion, and termination of employment. The definition of who is considered a ‘disabled person’ in relation to the equality act is:
- you have a physical or mental impairment
- that impairment has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on your ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities
These are covered in Schedule 1, Part 1 of the Equality Act 2010 and in Regulation 7 of the Equality Act 2010 (Disability) Regulations 2010.
If an employer intentionally treats a disabled person worse than they would a non-disabled person, this is unlawful and considered direct discrimination. Knowledge is important. The employer must have been aware, or ought to have been, that you are disabled when the discriminatory event took place. This can include;
- not providing you with opportunities for promotion or training
- subjecting you to a performance or capability review
- paying you differently or not giving you a bonus
- not inviting you to a team event
Discrimination arising from disability
It is unlawful for your employer to treat you badly because of something arising from your health condition or impairment, unless they can justify it by showing there is a good reason for it and it is proportionate. Proportionate means they must show there is no other ‘less discriminatory’ ways to achieve the outcome your employer wants. The employer must consider what reasonable adjustments they can make when deciding this.
Again, knowledge is important, your employer must know, or be expected to know, you are disabled. However, they are not expected to know how your health condition affects you while working. For example, your employer is aware you have a hearing impairment and require a BSL interpreter for meetings. They may not know that you also require a palantypist as you cannot take notes while engaging with a BSL interpreter.
An example of discrimination arising from disability would be an employer not offering you a promotion because your employer thinks you’ll be too tired to manage due to being diagnosed with ME.
Indirect Disability Discrimination
It is unlawful for employers to apply a rule, a policy or conduct work in a way that has a higher negative impact on disabled people compared to non-disabled people.
An example of this could be the practise of prioritising full-time staff for promotion and training. This could potentially place disabled people who need to work part- time to manage their health condition at a disadvantage compared to non- disabled workers.
You can find more details on your rights by downloading ‘Know your rights, Use your rights, Live your rights’, an information resource for disabled people.
Employers are required by law to take steps that remove barriers disabled employees face at work. This is called duty to make reasonable adjustments. This means if your employer has rules, policies or does things in a certain way that puts you, as a disabled person, at a disadvantage or if there are physical barriers in the work environment they have to take reasonable steps to remove the barrier. The employer will only be required to make adjustments which would be ‘reasonable’ for them to implement in the circumstances.
When considering what is ‘reasonable’ a number of elements need to be considered. These include the impact on others, their business, the cost and the impact the adjustments are likely to have.
The employer is responsible for paying the cost of the adjustment(s). Access to work is a government scheme which can help pay for costs, find out more information about access to work
Citizen’s Advice can provide advice on discrimination relating to work. You can contact Adviceline on 0800 702 2020 or access textphone and find your local citizen’s advice on their website
If you are a member of a union, it is worth contacting them to find out if they have additional support for disabled members. For example, Unison has a disabled members group which fights discrimination and campaigns for improved workplace accessibility.
Support for job seekers
Scope; Support to Work
Support to work is a free 12 week online and telephone support programme for disabled people who are looking for paid work in England and Wales.
This service starts by speaking to a specialist employment advisor, by phone or online. They will listen to any challenges or barriers you have experienced and will give specific advice for your situation. They can provide support with many aspects of looking for paid work, including;
- developing confidence and job skills like time management
- how and where to look for jobs
- identifying your strengths and transferable skills
- reviewing your CV to meet your employment goals
- mock interviews
You can access Support to Work by calling 0300 222 5742 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
ELITE Supported Employment
Elite helps empower people with impairments by providing vocational opportunities, training and employment through to independence. Elite run projects and deliver supported employment services across Wales. An employment advisor will contact you to conduct an assessment to gain a full picture of your skills, abilities, experience, strengths and your unique circumstances. This will help to produce an action plan and identify the most appropriate ways to assist.
They can be contacted at email@example.com or 01443 226664
You can find out more about ELITE on their website