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Disability Discrimination and Protecting Pay

Thursday, October 06, 2016

If you had a teacher who could no longer teach because of a disability and you moved them into a support role, could it be discriminatory not to continue to pay them their previous teacher's salary permanently? According to a recent Employment Appeal Decision, yes, potentially it could.

What happened?

Under the Equality Act 2010 employers must look at what adjustments can be made to help remove any disadvantage to disabled employees and implement those that are considered to be "reasonable".

In this recent interesting case, G4S Cash Solutions (UK) Ltd v Powell, a disabled employee who could no longer carry out his job as an engineer due to his disability, took on a more junior role. He initially continued to receive his higher engineer's salary which he thought was a long term arrangement, but was later dismissed when he refused to accept a lower rate of pay reflecting the more junior role.

What did the Tribunal decide?

The Employment Appeal Tribunal decided that the employer was required to continue to pay their employee on his higher engineer's salary on a permanent basis because it considered it was a reasonable adjustment to continue to do so. It did, however, comment that the employer had substantial resources and so would not be "reasonable" in all cases.

Why is this case important? 

Whilst this case wasn't concerned with a school, the unexpected decision reminds us that the law in this area is always changing. When you are faced with a disabled employee who cannot undertake their job, serious consideration needs to be given to all adjustments that can be made and whether those adjustments may be considered "reasonable" in the circumstances. It reminds us of the extent of the burden placed on employers and emphasises the importance of agreeing any changes with the employee before implementing them.

What can we do to help you?

We are here to guide you through any tricky sickness issues you are having with employees, whether short term or long term. We can help with occupational health (OH) referrals and advising on what adjustments may be considered "reasonable" in the circumstances.

We also offer an OH service to our clients, enabling us to communicate with the OH provider directly to ensure you receive the most helpful report in the circumstances. 

If you wish to discuss a particular situation with us or would like more information on the OH service we offer, please feel free to contact us at employmentlawadvice@judicium.com or call 0845 459 7013.

Don't forget...

.... that our HR Advisory service now includes an annual visit to your school.  You can use this visit to apprise us of any new developments in your school or alternatively to assist you with any HR issues that are better dealt with face to face.

There is no extra cost for this visit and it is available to all HR Advisory clients old and new.  If you would like to book a visit by one of our consultants to your school, please contact us on 0845 459 7013.

"Judicium's speed of response is in sharp contrast to what I was used to. I have total confidence in them stemming from the fact that they are trained lawyers who are employment specialists.” Denham Kite, Head teacher - Victoria Dock Primary School

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