A Plain English Guide To British Employment Law

Disability Discrimination

Disabled workers share the same general employment rights as other workers. However, there are also some special rights for disabled people under the Equality Act 2010. Learn more about your employment law rights regarding disability discrimination and the Equality Act 2010.

Employers, Disability Discrimination and the Equality Act 2010

Under the Equality Act 2010, it is unlawful for employers to discriminate against disabled people. The disability discrimination parts of the act cover:

  • application forms
  • interview arrangements
  • aptitude or proficiency tests
  • job offers
  • terms of employment including pay
  • promotion, transfer and training opportunities
  • work-related benefits such as access to recreation or refreshment facilities
  • dismissal or redundancy
  • discipline and grievances

An employer must also make reasonable changes to applications, interviews and work so that you are not disadvantaged. These are known as ‘reasonable adjustments’.

Under the Equality Act 2010, an employer must not:

  • treat a disabled person less favourably because the person has a disability – this is known as ‘direct discrimination’
  • indirectly discriminate against a disabled person, unless there is a fair and balanced reason for this
  • directly discriminate against, or harass a person because they are associated with a disabled person
  • directly discriminate against or harass a person who is wrongly thought to be disabled
  • victimise anyone

Victimisation might arise because the person has taken, or is believed likely to take action using employment law. For example, making a complaint or taking a case to a tribunal or court. Or it might be because they have helped somebody to make a complaint or to take other action.

Under employment law, your employer must not treat a disabled person less favourably because of something connected with the person’s disability. Unless there is a fair and balanced reason. For purposes of disability discrimination employment law, the employer must know or should reasonably have been expected to know that the person is disabled.

These rights do not just apply to employment. The Equality Act covers other forms of work like partnerships, contract work, or holding an office like a director of a business.

Reasonable adjustments in the workplace

Under the Equality Act 2010 an employer has a duty to make reasonable changes for disabled applicants and employees. These are know as ‘reasonable adjustments’. Adjustments should be made to avoid you being put at a disadvantage compared to non-disabled people.

The need to make reasonable adjustments can apply to the working arrangements or any physical aspects of the workplace. For example, adjusting your working hours or providing you with an adapted piece of equipment to help you to do the job. Physical adjustments might include replacing steps with a ramp.

Also, if it is reasonable, the employer needs to provide an extra aid to ensure the disabled worker is not disadvantaged. This might mean providing special or adapted equipment to do the job.