You have a long-term health condition: this might have visible effects or cause hidden impairments. It might be something you have had for a long time or may have developed more recently. Your health condition may be fairly static, or your symptoms and ability to fulfil the demands of your job might fluctuate, improve or decline over time. Your health and ability to do your job might be something you are willing to talk about or it might be something you prefer not to disclose. You know you can do your job with some support and want to do your job to the best of your ability, but what obligation is there on your employer to provide this support? What do you need to do to get that support? How might you ask? Indeed, how might your employer react to such a request?
We know that these are the kind of dilemmas employees with health conditions and disabilities face every day. Any employee who has a disability in terms of the Equality Act 2010 is entitled to request reasonable adjustments at work, and under these conditions an employer has a duty to make reasonable adjustments. If the employer does not consider adjustments to be reasonable, they have a responsibility to inform you why. That’s why making practical requests that meet employee needs in the context of business demands is so important and what we at RA-CIC specialise in.
Often people with long term health conditions do not realise that they have a ‘disability’ in terms of the Equality Act. The government itself estimates that at least 5.5 million people may be covered by the definition. That means protection under the Equality Act, if the employer knows or could reasonably be expected to have figured out that their employee has a ‘disability’. Knowing that we should have this protection is often the first step in deciding how to approach the situation with our employer.
The Equality Act 2010 has a special definition of disability that covers a very wide range of diagnoses and impairments that are not short term and have a significant impact on employees’ day to day activities (that is the everyday, ordinary things that we all do in our day to day life). If you want to know more about the definition of disability there is excellent guidance available and we are happy to share this with you. This sets out who is likely to be covered – including the conditions automatically considered to be disabilities under the act, and how to review circumstances accurately in the context of treatment or use of aids and adaptations. However, our experience has shown that many employers want to do the right thing without getting overly focused on legal definitions, and we pride ourselves on providing practical and effective advice and support. Call us to find out how we at RA-CIC can help.