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Dedication, Motivation and a Whole Lot of Heart

At the Rio Paralympics Team GB is going for gold in a big way. We are currently second in the leader table and it looks like we are going to stay up there.

One amazing story emerging from these games was the T13 1500m final. The top four Paralympians all had faster times than that of Olympic gold medallist Matthew Centrowitz Jr 1500 champion, beating his time of 3:50.00. Astonishing and very impressive.

Anyone who beats the field in the Olympics to take a medal is remarkable. The Paralympian athletes are doubly so. They haven’t just beaten the field. They’ve beaten all the odds and all the difficulties placed on them by virtue of having a disability.

Disabilities come in all shapes and sizes. Under the Equality Act 2010 it is unlawful to treat a person less favourably because of a mental or physical disability. This doesn’t have to be a current employee; the law covers prospective employees too.

The Equality Act 2010 defines that ‘a person is disabled if they have a physical or mental impairment which has a substantially adverse and long-term effect on their ability to carry our normal day-to-day activities.’ Most conditions are capable of being a disability. Some are illnesses but expressly excluded from protection as a disability, for example, addiction to alcohol. Some conditions are a disability from the date of diagnosis. These are HIV, cancer and multiple sclerosis.

Before the Paralympic games started the Paralympic committee had to make sure that all adjustments had been made to allow athletes into the arenas. One thing didn’t work out very well though. The traffic in Rio is notoriously busy and because of this a priority lane was created. This allowed Olympic traffic to move freely around Rio without getting stuck. Unfortunately for the Paralympians the lane was closed when the Olympics ended. The Paralympians have had to sit in traffic for prolonged periods of time. Why the Olympic and Paralympic committee thought it would be a good idea to close the lane is a mystery to us all.

As an employer you are under a duty of care to make reasonable adjustments in the workplace for those with disabilities. The purpose is to enable an employee with a disability to do his or her job. Reasonable adjustments can be anything from adapting the workplace e.g. wheelchair access to adjusting working hours e.g. flexible working/part time. The list is not exhaustive and can be anything that helps a disabled employee at work. Even using particular coloured paper in the case of a dyslexic employee would be classed as a reasonable adjustment.

What is reasonable will always depend on a number of factors. Here are some examples of reasonable adjustments approved by employment tribunals.

  • Reallocation of a duty a disabled employee cannot do.
  • Providing a nearby parking space for a disabled worker.
  • Providing a piece of equipment.
  • Swapping two pieces of equipment.
  • Redeploying a disabled person to a non-public facing role.
  • Redeploying a disabled person to a non-public facing role.
  • Allowing for regular breaks to cope with a disability.
  • Providing a disabled employee with a mentor.
  • Amending the employer’s policy on companions at certain meetings.
  • Swapping roles with another employee.
  • Retaining an employee temporarily in an alternative post.

We deal with the good, the bad and the ugly of HR. If you need help resolving problems with reasonable adjustments for disabled employees or any other HR issues, give us a call on 01908 262628.

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