A Court of Appeal decision provides some useful guidance to employers in relation to making reasonable adjustments for disabled employees.
The court held that, in this case, an employer was wrong to have unthinkingly followed an occupational health adviser’s opinion that an employee was not disabled. The adviser had stated, without explanation, that the employee, who had been signed off work for depression caused by work-related stress, was not “covered” by the disability discrimination legislation. While occupational health assessments or other medical advice may be helpful, a responsible employer must ultimately apply its own mind to the test for deciding whether an employee is disabled under the discrimination legislation. The court advised that, when asking questions that might inform a view that an employee is or is not disabled, employers should tailor those questions to the particular circumstances of the case.
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