Avoiding unlawful discrimination against disabled people

Multipage Guide

Who is this page for?

  • Employers

Which countries is it relevant to?

    • England

    • |
    • Scotland

    • |
    • Wales

There are particular requirements when you are considering a redundancy situation to make sure that disabled people are not being placed at a disadvantage for reasons relating to their disability. Where necessary, you must make reasonable adjustments to the criteria and process.

If an employee in the pool is a disabled person, and you knew or could reasonably have been expected to have known this, you must not treat them unfavourably because of something connected to their disability unless you can show that what you 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, if an employee in the pool is a disabled person, you must make ‘reasonable adjustments’ if these are needed to remove barriers the person faces which a non-disabled person would not face. What this means is that you must first consider what adjustments would remove the barriers for the worker and second, if they are reasonable adjustments, you 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.

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.

Last updated: 19 Feb 2019

Further information

If you think you might have been treated unfairly and want further advice, you can contact the Equality Advisory and Support Service.

Phone: 0808 800 0082
Textphone: 0808 800 0084

You can email using the contact form on the EASS website.

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