The term substantial effect indicates that the disability is not minor or insignificant but constitutes a barrier to perform function in a normal manner. The significant part of the Act is to consider the effect of an impairment rather than the impairment itself. For example, an employer should consider the effects of back pain, migrain, asthma and dyslexia of an employee rather than considering the sickness. However, certain conditions like multiple sclerosis, cancer and HIV is directly considered as disabilities.
The Disability Discrimination Act and its amendments requires employers to avoid harassment, victimisation and the three forms of discrimination at work place and ensure fair treatment for disabled individuals. The three forms of unlawful discrimination includes disability linked discrimination, direct discrimination and the failure to provide reasonable adjustment. The failure of the employer to provide reasonable adjustment is not justifiable if the failure was committed with knowledge of a person’s disability. Employers can attempt to identify the disability of people and study its effects on the employee and extent resonable adjustment according to the requirement.
The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 requires employers to provide necessary reasonable adjustments to ensure equal opportunities for disabled individuals to continue work and apply for work. Employers can practice reasonable adjustments for disabled employees depending on the disability and associated requirement. Some of the reasonable adjustments that can be made at workplace are changes to workplace layout and improving the accessibility for disable individuals, assigning a part of the disabled person’s duties to a temporary employee, changes to work hours – flexible working hours, starting late or ending earlier, job sharing, etc, additional leave for rehabilitation, treatment or assessment, special training for disabled individuals and their subordinates, provision of adaptable equipment and furnitures like desk, chair, vehicles and computer, modification of instructions in Braille or larger font and assisting communication for the visual as well as hearing disabled by appointing a reader. Changes to work arrangement can also result in alternative work or work profile which can be adopted as a reasonable adjustment of last resort.
A disabled individual seeking reasonable adjustment should reveal the condition to the employer with adequate data that proves the disability. They have a right to confidentiality and the employer is required to hold the information confidentially unless there is explicit permission from the employee to disclose the details to a third party. This is supported by the Data Protection Act 1998 (What counts as a disability in law’ 2008).
Though Disability Discrimination Act has laid rules to be followed by the employer in providing reasonable adjustment, there are limitations to this additional service. Reasonable adjustment is not mandatory if it cause unjustifiable hardship to the employer. Further, the employer can avail funds for reasonable adjustment from the Workplace Modification scheme to restructure workplace setting or equipment and to adapt to the requirement of disabled