The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) NI 1995 & Equality Act 2010 (UK) requires that employers introduce reasonable adjustments in respect of applicants and employees who are disabled. This is with a view to ensuring that disabled people are not disadvantaged and enjoy equality of opportunity in employment. There are a number of factors that employers should consider when determining what is a reasonable adjustment.
The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) NI 1995 & Equality Act 2010 (UK) introduced, over a period of time, new laws and measures aimed at ending the discrimination faced by many disabled people. It gives disabled people rights in:
What is a Disability ?
The DDA defines disability as “a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on a person’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities”.
Physical impairment - this includes, for instance, a weakening of part of the body (eyes, ears, limbs, internal organs) caused through illness, by accident or from birth. Examples are blindness, deafness, paralysis of a leg or heart disease.
Mental impairment - this includes mental ill health and what is commonly known as learning disability.
Substantial - put simply, this means that the effect of the physical or mental impairment on ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities is more than minor or trivial. It does not have to be a severe effect.
Long-term adverse effect - the effect has to have lasted, or be likely to last, overall for at least twelve months and the effect must be a detrimental one. People who are diagnosed with cancer, HIV and multiple sclerosis are deemed to be disabled from the point of diagnosis rather than from the point when the condition has some adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.
What is Discrimination ?
Employment Under the DDA, discrimination in employment occurs when:
- a disabled person is treated less favourably than someone else on the grounds of his/her disability (direct discrimination)
- a disabled person is treated less favourably than someone else and the treatment is for a reason relating to the person’s disability, and this treatment cannot be justified (disability related discrimination)
- there is a failure to make a reasonable adjustment for a disabled person 5
- victimisation occurs • a disabled person is subjected to harassment for a reason which relates to their disability. Provision of goods, facilities and services Those who provide goods, facilities and services to the public, or a section of the public, cannot discriminate against a disabled person. Under the DDA, discrimination in the provision of goods, facilities and services occurs when:
- a disabled person is treated less favourably than someone else and the treatment is for a reason relating to the person’s disability, and this treatment cannot be justified
- there is a failure to make a reasonable adjustment for a disabled person. Education A separate piece of legislation deals with disability discrimination in education. Under the Special Educational Needs and Disability (NI) Order, discrimination in education occurs when:
- a disabled pupil or student or prospective pupil or student is treated less favourably than someone else and the treatment is for a reason relating to the pupil’s or student’s disability; and this treatment cannot be justified
- there is a failure to make a reasonable adjustment for a disabled pupil or student
- victimisation or harassment occur
Employers may have to take particular steps to prevent their arrangements or premises from discriminating against people with disabilities – referred to as ‘reasonable adjustments’. Reasonable adjustments are designed to ensure fair access for disabled people or to compensate for the disadvantage they experience as a result of their disability. They include:
The Act lists a number of factors which may have a bearing on whether it will be reasonable for the employer to have to make a particular adjustment. These are: