Leaving work

The time will come when it is time for you to move on from a job or a company. This may be because you fancy a change, want to take a step up – or down. Sometimes, the employer may take the initiative in encouraging or making you leave. The law provides protection for people leaving work through redundancy and dismissal.

Discipline, capability and dismissal

If you are faced with the prospect of disciplinary action, it is important that your employer establishes that the cause is not due to any reason related to your disability.

Disciplinary action on grounds unrelated to your disability, or which would not have been altered if reasonable adjustments had been made, is not likely to be discriminatory. Your employer should establish very early on whether disability has any relevance.

Your employer should still make any necessary reasonable adjustments for the disciplinary action and meetings.

If you are being dismissed on the grounds of capability, this should only be done following careful discussion, expert advice and research of all possible reasonable adjustments. It may be more appropriate to offer to move a disabled person to a different role than to dismiss on the grounds of capability.

Redundancy

Your employer should generally use the same redundancy procedures for your as for any non-disabled employees. However, there are two areas where your employer needs to be careful not to discriminate against disabled people and those with health conditions.

The first is in establishing the pool for redundancy. For this process, selection criteria (such as length of service, ‘last in, first out’, some kind of measure of skills, qualifications, aptitude or performance, or attendance or disciplinary records) could potentially discriminate against a disabled person. For example, the employer may ask managers to assess employees against a chosen selection criterion, such as attendance, and they could then make negative assessments of their disabled employees based on inaccurate assumptions – such as above average time off due to hospital appointments.

The second area where discrimination could take place is during the consultation period normally carried out during a redundancy period. Your employer needs to check that the information you have been given is in an accessible format and that you have understood what is being done so that you can take part fully in the process.

Pensions

There are three main types of pension you may be entitled to:

The basic state pension: a flat rate pension payable from your state pension age.
Even if you have not always worked, you should still qualify for a pension. There are special rules to help people who have not always paid national insurance contributions during their working life.

Your contribution record will be credited as having paid if you received any of the following when you weren’t earning:

  • invalid care allowance
  • disability working allowance
  • jobseeker’s allowance
  • incapacity benefit
  • severe disablement allowance.

A personal pension plan: an investment policy designed to offer a lump sum and income in retirement. This is available to most UK residents, including children.

  • You can contribute up to £3,600 per annum or percentage of salary if higher (the percentage determined by your age)
  • It is available to members of occupational schemes (certain rules apply)
  • It cannot be accessed before age 50 and you must purchase an annuity (yearly payment) by age 75
  • It has virtually tax free growth
  • You get up to a 25% tax free lump sum at retirement
  • Tax relief is given on contributions at highest tax rate 

An occupational pension plan: a pension arrangement set up by employers to provide income in retirement for their employees.

Occupational pensions and disability discrimination

Under the DDA, every occupational pension scheme has a ‘non-discrimination’ rule. This means that trustees and pension managers are under similar duties as employers not to treat you less favourably because of a reason related to disability. If you believe you are being discriminated against, you should complain through the pension’s dispute resolution mechanism. Accessible information on your scheme and how to complain should be made available to you by law.

In some cases, your employer may also provide an ill health pension, designed to support employees who are no longer able to work due to illness or disability. If you are not sure if your organisation has one or if you are covered, speak to your HR or line manager or ask the trustees of the pension scheme for a copy of the rules on ill health.

Other companies set up permanent health insurance schemes – arrangements with insurance companies, which are separate from pension schemes. You should check whether your organisation has this kind of arrangement.

Last Updated: 30 Jun 2009