Can I ask my boss to adjust my working conditions if I am disabled?
If you are a disabled employee, you have protection against discrimination under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA).
A disability could indicate many types of physical or mental difficulties, such as deafness, loss of mobility, or learning difficulties. Disability can also mean a long-term illness, such as multiple sclerosis or AIDS. The Act means that you are still protected against discrimination, even if medical treatment or disability aids have helped to correct your disability.
The DDA covers the rights of a wide range of current and prospective disabled employees, including those who work full-time and part-time, as well as apprentices, the self-employed, contract workers and temporary staff.
Your employer must not allow direct discrimination, such as prejudice, in the workplace; and they should not treat you in a less favourable manner than your colleagues. Additionally, they should not let you suffer harassment or victimisation due to your condition. In particular, an employer must carry out reasonable adjustments to ensure that you are not disadvantaged by the arrangements for your employment. For example, aspects of a job such as the hiring process, employment contract, training and promotions, should be adjusted to allow for your disability if possible.
Due to this last provision, you are entitled to ask your boss to change your working conditions if you are physically challenged. For example, it is reasonable to ask your employer to make adjustments to working practices or to your physical surroundings, such as:
- Adjusting your working hours to allow for regular treatment
- Allowing time off for medical treatment and rehabilitation
- Re-allocating some of your duties to a colleague, such as lifting
- Giving you a transfer to a more suitable place of work
- Arranging extra training
- Providing you with an interpreter or reader
- Acquiring or modifying existing equipment for you
- Adjusting the premises, such as adding ramps for a wheelchair
- Providing additional supervision or support
If your employer refuses to make reasonable adjustments, and you can no longer do your job, you may have grounds for claiming unfair dismissal at an Employment Tribunal, due to constructive dismissal.
If your employer fires you because you have asked for reasonable adjustments, you may have grounds for claiming compensation due to automatically unfair dismissal. An Employment specialist solicitor will be able to give you expert advice on your claim, should you wish to proceed