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The Rights Of The Disabled And Disability Discrimination At Work

By: Chris Hogan MSc - Updated: 2 Sep 2020 | comments*Discuss
Workers' Rights Disabled Disability

The rights of the disabled to fair and equitable treatment in the workplace are now as firmly established in law as any other form of discrimination, if not in practice. The essence of the disability discrimination law is the same as any other in that it makes it illegal to treat a disabled worker in a different way to any other worker.

Unfortunately, unemployment rates are much higher among disabled workers than the national averages, so it would seem that the legal changes have not yet resulted in real-life changes trickling down among employers.

Question Procedure for Disability Discrimination

One difference between disability discriminations and other forms of discrimination is in the process for pursuing a claim if someone feels they are being discriminated against in their place of work. As with other discriminatory problems, people are expected to try to resolve the issue through an informal approach and then go through the employer's internal Grievance Procedure.

If that doesn't work, you can contact ACAS (Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service) or making a complaint to an Employment Tribunal.

Other Differences Regarding Disability Discrimination

One other main practical difference from legislation covering disability discrimination, as opposed to subjects such as race or religion, is that companies with fewer than twenty employees are exempt from the bill. In addition, it is allowable to refuse to employ a disabled worker because of their disability, but only if it can be demonstrated that their disability would actually get in the way of performing the role at the business. So, for example, it would be permissible to refuse to employ a deaf person for a telephone call centre role, but probably not from a computer programmer's job.

Technology as an Enabler for the Disabled

Technological advances have made a great difference to the employability of disabled people. There are many devices and software on the market to enable physically disabled people to use computers and, of course, the trend to working at home, using email and the telephone, favours many physically disabled people, too.

At Jobcentres, disabled workers can get access to specialist knowledge through Disability Employment Advisers, who will help draw up action plans to decide on appropriate careers and arrange necessary training. Jobcentres also have booklets and DVDs for disabled workers featuring real-life examples of people who have found work with the help from specialist advice at Jobcentres.

The law does demand that businesses make reasonable changes to premises to enable disabled people to work there, but some employers are reluctant to pay for the possibly expensive alterations. It's sometimes difficult to make alterations that will suit all disabilities and making the changes in a listed building can be very tricky, if not impossible.

Exemptions from Disability Discrimination

One problem is with the exemption of small companies, those of fewer than 20 employees, from the Equality Act. Although the exemption is understandable, in that the costs of altering premises is proportionally a harder burden to bear than for a larger company, this essentially intrinsically discriminates against disabled people and their workers' rights.

As the government's emphasis on entrepreneurism and small businesses increases and the number of large employers decreases, as a result of outsourcing and the end of large-scale manufacturing in the UK, it's a problem that is likely to get worse, not better, and greatly affecting workers' rights for the disabled.

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I am registered disabled and need to have a blood test weekly but I have just found out that my employer is deducting the hours from my annual leave. This equates to 9.75 days a year off my annual leave. Are they allowed to do this with me being registered disabled. I am losing 10 days off my holiday allowance just to keep me alive.
Mrsgibbons535 - 2-Sep-20 @ 7:30 AM
Chris - Your Question:
Hi I'm disabled n have a 40 mile trip there n back to hospital every 2 months. My hubby works full time n has to take holiday days. I think this is unfair but is there anything he can do about this?? That's 6 days a year a weeks holiday just to take me to appointments

Our Response:
Your husband's only recourse is speak to his employer directly. However, employers are not required by law to allow workers to attend medical appointments in work time.
WorkingRights - 4-Sep-18 @ 2:00 PM
Hi I'm disabled n have a 40 mile trip there n back to hospital every 2 months. My hubby works full time n has to take holiday days.. I think this is unfair but is there anything he can do about this?? That's 6 days a year a weeks holiday just to take me to appointments
Chris - 29-Aug-18 @ 3:51 PM
Hi I have recently been diagnosed with Addison's , I have to attend hospital appointments, does my employer have the right to deduct my pay when attending these appointments?
Sam - 29-May-17 @ 5:06 PM
I've just started work and pointed out at the interview I have to attend hospital once every 4 weeks for an infusion as I have MS. I was advised it would be no problem - I am unsure whether the company who has over 100 staff should pay me for those days off. Can you advise please.
Zilpha - 31-Aug-15 @ 1:08 PM
My employer says I cannot attend hospital appointments during work time.I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011 and thought I was protected by the Equality Act 2010.Is my employer acting illegally?
Puppy - 18-Jul-15 @ 11:47 PM
My employer refuses to give me time off for hospital appointments and says I must make appointments for a time when I'm not at work.I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011 and thought I was covered by the Equality Act 2010.Is my employer acting illegally?
puppy - 18-Jul-15 @ 11:43 PM
2 years ago I was fired for having a disability.I filed a complaint with EEOC and the Department of Labor (I was also refused FLMA).It took over 18 months, but both agencies found my employer at fault.I was told my employer did not want to pay damages and I would have to obtain my own attorney and take my employer to court myself.This will take another 2-4 YEARS.EEOC and DOL only take class action suits to court.In the mean time I have tried working with Department of vocational rehab.I am white, female, and will turn 60 next month.I am over qualified and under educated and Vocational Rehab has not been able to set up one interview.I have had meetings cancelled and it can take 4-8 weeks to get another one scheduled.The business relations person stated that he needed to give more attention to someone who can not read, and considering I can do much of the work myself, I can have what time is left over.When I called to follow-up on 4 job applications completed over 2 weeks earlier, I was told he had not even read the email.I am told that my SSDI check is so large, that I do not qualify for utility assistance food assistance, or health insurance.I went without heat most of the last two winters, use almost no a/c, and eat once a day.I have been on a wait list for housing assistance for 2 years.I have been told, I will never be helped as all help goes to mothers of minor children.I live in a county that has some of the nations highest numbers of single mothers with more than one child under the age of 10.If something does not happen soon, I will need to live out of my car!I have been told that even though the rehabilitation act states services cannot be denied, they are.I have been told basically, I do not have any rights.Does anyone know where I should look now?The housing authority said that the anti-discrimination state of "prohibited based on sex, gender, race, religion, disability, familiar status, or national origin." does not pertain to me, but mothers who are pregnant or have minor children in the home.Someone who enters this country illegally has more rights for obtaining a home than I do.The client assistant program, designed to be my advocate with VR, states they have made some, minimal granted, but some effort to assist with employment.However, CAP was able to see some misrepresentation of facts when I forwarded all emails.I contacted my governor's office, he did not care. On the federal level I am redirected to voice mails or told the laws do not apply to me.If anyone can point me in the right direction I would appreciate it.
n/a - 26-Aug-14 @ 9:19 PM
@Doug, I've never heard that people with a disability couldn't work on cruise ships before?! What is the reason they're giving to not allow people with disabilities to work on-board? Surely they can't just say it's because you have a disability, that would be ridiculous! Like you say people with disabilities go on cruise ship for a holiday so what's the difference?
LIZ - 14-Jul-14 @ 12:42 PM
Is there a law that states that people with disabilities are not allowed to work onboard cruise ships? People with disabilities are allowed to go on cruise holidays, and have no problem, so why can't people with disabilities WORK onboard a cruise ship? Some cruise lines say that people with disabilities are "not allowed" to work onboard ships, because of their disability. In my eye, this is discrimination against disabled people, because of this simple question. How do able-bodied bosses KNOW that someone with a disability not be able to complete their duties without any problems? Do these able-bodied bosses have a disability? NO Do these able-bodied bosses KNOW FOR CERTAIN that someone with a disability CANNOT do their tasks onboard a cruise ship? NOSo, WHY discriminate against people with disabilties, when deep down you KNOW they would do just as good a job as any able-bodied person onboard? Are you going to say to passengers/guests with disabilities, "Sorry, you can't come onboard our cruise ships, as you have a disability?" I don't think you would even DARE to say that, so why say it to someone with a disability just because they want to come and WORK onboard? It doesn't make sense to me. What does everyone think?
Doug - 13-Jul-14 @ 2:18 PM
My son (age 24) is diabetic and has been since he was 2yrs old, he is having to attend lots of hospital appointments and eye operations. So this means he has to have a lot of time off work, whick in turn he loses a lot of money (wages). Can he get help with any money available to compensate for this.Its a shame because he has done everything the doctors and specialists have told him to do all his life and he still has these complications, he has to go back in hospital very soon for a major eye operation (which is 50/50 he may loose is sight totally) and will need to take time off again, please any help would be greatly apprieciated.Thankyou
pitbull - 21-Aug-12 @ 7:23 AM
I am in remission for cancer. My boss at work has always paid me for screening appointments in the past, but he has now left and his replacement asks why I need paying when I coulld stay over and make up the time. It's exhausting enough working full time with the side effects without doing extra. Please tell me do I have to do this? Time off required 1/2 day twice a year.
nina - 1-Sep-11 @ 11:08 AM
I have MS and have worked for 24 years with no problems until, due to financial cuts, my particular job was removed. Due to my disability I could not work in the area I was offered and my employer offered what they considered a reasonable adjustment by regrading me. This would reduce my wages by over £1000 per month and would cause me to lose my home as I would not be able to meet my mortgage costs. Is that really a reasonable adjustment?
mouse - 9-Jun-11 @ 10:58 PM
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