Opinion

A passport to equal opportunities?

26th March 2019

A passport to equal opportunities?

The TUC and GMB have recently unveiled their new initiative, a disability “passport”. We take a look at how a similar initiative could be introduced within your business to assist with the practical side of complying with your duty to make reasonable adjustments under the Equality Act 2010.

Details

The TUC and the GMB union stated that it is “vital to find a more successful and unified way of agreeing and recording what modifications need to be put in place” for disabled people in employment. Therefore, they have unveiled their new initiative which has been labelled a disability “passport”.

The “passport” is designed to record a worker’s agreed reasonable adjustments to assist workers with disabilities when there is a change in management or there is a change in their role. This highlights a common issue for workers with disabilities who face battles with their employers when ensuring that they have the required adjustments in place to enable them to do their role. Changes in personnel, job role or even the layout of the workplace can indirectly lead to barriers for workers ensuring that their reasonable adjustments remain in place.

The “passport” also encourages a regular review of the reasonable adjustments in place to ensure they are appropriate for the worker’s disability. This is an important reminder for employers to review the adjustments in place to encourage workers with disabilities to remain in work and to make your business an inclusive and attractive place to work.

Employer considerations

As employers will be aware, there is a duty to make reasonable adjustments when there is a provision, criterion or practice applied by the employer, a physical feature of the employer’s premises or when an employer has failed to provide an auxiliary aid which has put a disabled person at a substantial disadvantage in comparison with those who are not disabled. The Equality Act 2010 provides a legal definition of what constitutes a disability.

While it can be argued that the “passport” is not revolutionary as it is simply reminding employers of their legal obligations, it is a practical step that may be of assistance for employers to ensure they are not unknowingly creating barriers for employees with disabilities. Employers should be particularly aware of what reasonable adjustments are required by their workforce as a failure to comply with the duty can lead to a discrimination claim. If successful, a claimant can receive an uncapped compensation award based on the loss the tribunal determines the claimant has suffered.

While a disability “passport” may not be appropriate for your business, it is a reminder for current practices to be reviewed to ensure employees who require reasonable adjustments are not subject to additional stress when there is a change in the workplace.

 

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