Equality Act 2010
From October 1st 2010, disability discrimination issues are covered by the Equality Act. This replaces the Disability Act 1995.
Disability discrimination legislation prohibits discrimination against disabled people in employment and in the provision of goods and services. Employers must make reasonable adjustment to their premises or employment arrangements, if these substantially disadvantage a disabled employee, or prospective employee, compared to a non-disabled person. However, the Acts do not apply to the armed forces.
An employer must not refuse to employ someone simply because they have a disability. They also have a duty to think about different ways of working.
Employers must not discriminate against a disabled person in:
- the recruitment and retention of employees,
- promotion and transfers,
- training and development,
- the dismissal process.
1. Dyslexia is covered under the law.
A disabled person is defined as having "a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities." Substantial is defined as ‘more than trivial’.
"In some cases, people have coping or avoidance strategies which cease to work in certain circumstances (for example, where someone who has dyslexia is placed under stress). If it is possible that a person’s ability to manage the effects of an impairment will break down so that effects will sometimes still occur, this possibility must be taken into account when assessing the effects of the impairment." [Paragraph B10, Guidance to the Definitions of Disability, Equality Act).
2. When should I tell my employer about my disability?
It’s up to you whether or not to declare your disability or health condition to your employer although not everyone has the choice. If you do decide to declare it, you can do so at any of the following stages:
- on an application form or C.V;
- before or at an interview;
- when you have been offered a job;
- when you start a job;
- later, when you are in work.
3. Making reasonable adjustments in the workplace.
Employers have a duty under the Equality Act to make adjustments to support dyslexic employees: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2010/15/part/2/chapter/2/crossheading/adjustments-for-disabled-persons
Adjustments for dyslexic people can be simple and inexpensive. They may also be a benefit to other employees. A willingness to be flexible is the most important thing. For adjustments to be made, the employee needs to disclose details of their difficulties. If you think you may be dyslexic but have had no formal assessment see Dyslexia Support in the Workplace.
Failure to implement reasonable adjustments is a breach of the Equality Act.
4. Enforcement of the Act.
If a person with a disability feels they have been discriminated against they may want to take their case to an Employment Tribunal. If they win the case, they may be able to claim for financial loss and damages for injuries to feelings. The Tribunal may instruct the employer to make a reasonable adjustment to enable the dyslexic person to work.
We would strongly recommend that dyslexic employees wishing to take legal action should seek legal representation. Employment Tribunals are not favourable environments for the litigant in person and can be particularly challenging for claimants with dyslexic difficulties. Contact the BDA Helpline for some suggestions of legal advisers.
Form I.T1 is available from Employment Service offices (Benefit Offices and Job Centres) and the Citizens Advice Bureau. The form includes space to describe the complaint. The form must be sent to the appropriate Tribunal office. They will register the case and send a copy of the form to the employer and ACAS. The employer should reply within 21 days. Then the Tribunal office will arrange a hearing.
Proceedings under the Equality Act must be started within three months of the alleged act of discrimination.
Legal aid is not available to pay for representation at an Employment Tribunal. Individuals can receive advice and help in preparing their case from solicitors paid for by the Legal Aid Board, but only if they fall within certain tight financial limits. Trade unions may be able to give advice to their members. Some solicitors may work on a contingency fee basis.
5. Organisations that provide help and advice.
B.D.A. Helpline for signposting to legal advice. Tel. 0845 251 9002.
ACAS (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Services) is a government agency. It will provide free initial advice on an employment query, and try to negotiate a settlement. A copy of any complaint lodged with a tribunal will be sent automatically to an ACAS conciliation officer. If conciliation is successful, the parties will reach an agreement, which will normally be recorded in writing.
- Tel: 08457 47 47 47
- Web: http://www.acas.org.uk
Northern Ireland Equality Commission provides free information, publications and good practice advice to employers.
Citizens Advice Bureau.
Some centres may offer legal advice. They may help you negotiate with an employer and may in some cases be able to represent you at a hearing.
- Tel: 08444 111 444
- Web: http://www.citizensadvice.org.uk
The Disability Law Service provides free legal advice to disabled people and representation where appropriate.
Employers Forum on Disability.
- Tel: 020 7403 3020
- Fax: 020 7403 0404
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Web: http://www.employers-forum.co.uk
Local Law Centres may provide you with free advice and representation. Contact the head office to locate the one nearest you:
Law Centres Federation.
- Tel: 020 7387 8570
- Fax: 020 7387 8368
- Email: email@example.com
- Web: http://www.lawcentres.org.uk
RADAR is able to give advice on the Act.
Employment Tribunal has a National Helpline number:
- Tel: 08457 959 775
- Fax: 01284 766 334
- Web: http://www.employmenttribunals.gov.uk