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Employment Case Law

Tuesday 11 June 2019

The number of claims to Employment Tribunals re disability have increased substantially, by 32% in 2018 compared with a rise of only 4% for all claims. There have recently been two significant cases relating to the implementation of reasonable adjustments.

In the first, Ms P was an employee who had requested voice recognition software. Her employer took over two years to install it. They were found in breach and Ms P was awarded £45,000. The second case was of Mr S who displayed symptoms relating to the autism spectrum. His employer was also criticised for delays in implementing reasonable adjustments. These cases are interesting for those with dyslexia and related conditions and for employers. They relate closely to the questions we receive on the British Dyslexia Association Helpline from employees (and employers) around delays in implementing reasonable adjustments.

Firstly, they show that employers must take ownership on implementing reasonable adjustments for employees with disabilities. Those who leave the employee to do their own research to find solutions to the challenges caused by the impact of work and their disability, will not have acted reasonably. For us, at the British Dyslexia Association (BDA), it also underlines the importance of the training that we deliver to employers to help them support employees effectively and appropriately thereby avoiding expensive litigation.

The second point, which was commented upon by the Tribunal, is that employers should not leave employees waiting for reasonable adjustments, it should be done swiftly. This is a really common issue that BDA sees all the time, with employees waiting months for workplace needs assessments and for their assistive software to arrive and then further waits on installation and training to use it. Developing internal staff through training to become Workplace Needs Assessors can make this whole process far more efficient. Again here the BDA offers Accredited Training for individuals to become such “inhouse” Workplace Needs Assessors.

Paul Holcroft, associate director of Croner (the major provider of employment legal publishing in the UK), commented that the case highlighted why employers need to understand how the work environment and associated stimuli could have a significant impact on neurodivergent employees.

Looking at the above cases there is no doubt that investing in such training makes far better business sense than risking potential fines, not to mention the stress and anxiety to all parties that such cases cause.

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