Avoiding discrimination against disabled people

When your employer is considering a redundancy situation and you are a disabled person, there are particular requirements to make sure that you are not being placed at a disadvantage for reasons relating to your disability. Where necessary, your employer must make reasonable adjustments to the criteria and process.

If you are in the pool from which people will be selected for redundancy, you are a disabled person, and your employer knew or could reasonably be expected to know this, they must not treat you unfavourably because of something connected to your disability unless they can show that what they are doing is objectively justified.

For example:

An employer knows that one of their employees is a disabled person. They select employees from the pool on the basis of absence over the past two years. The disabled person has taken a lot of time off work in relation to their disability (the time off being ‘something connected with the disability’). If the employer cannot objectively justify this decision, it is likely to be discrimination arising from disability. A better approach would be for the employer to exclude disability-related absence from the absence which is used to score employees against that criterion (this would probably also be a reasonable adjustment, which we look at next).

In addition, your employer must make reasonable adjustments if these are needed to remove barriers you face which a non-disabled person would not face. What this means is that an employer must first consider what adjustments would remove the barriers for you and second, if they are reasonable adjustments, your employer must make them.

For example:

A manufacturer is making some employees redundant. One of the criteria for redundancy is whether someone can operate every machine on the employer’s production line. A disabled person cannot operate one of the machines because of the nature of their impairment. The employer decides it is a reasonable adjustment to the criterion to adjust the employee’s mark so as to ignore the absence of that machine, so they score the same as a worker who has operated that machine to a satisfactory standard.

Your employer only needs to make changes to the criteria if you need these to overcome a substantial disadvantage. Your employer should look at each of the criteria in turn and how you are scored against them, making adjustments to each of them where necessary But your employer is only required to do what is reasonable.

Your employer also needs to make sure that, if you are a disabled person being considered for redundancy or you wish to apply for voluntary redundancy, you do not face a disadvantage in obtaining information, being made aware of the procedure or receiving communications about the redundancy.

For example:

A worker has a learning disability and the employer is offering voluntary redundancy. The employer provides the worker with the information in Easy Read formats and makes sure that someone suitable spends time explaining the options to the worker.

You can read more about reasonable adjustments to remove barriers for disabled people, including how to work out what is reasonable. 

More information

Last Updated: 26 Jan 2015