Employer policies and reasonable adjustments: Linsley v Commissioners for Her Majesty’s Revenue and Custom: UKEAT/0150/18/JOJ.
A recent employment appeal tribunal found that an employer’s own policies should be followed when they are deciding on what reasonable adjustments to make.
Linsley (L), the employee, brought a claim in the employment tribunal (ET) for disability discrimination against her employer, HMRC. L alleged that HMRC had failed to make reasonable adjustments for her, namely a designated parking space, to be able to continue her employment and return from sick leave once she had gone off sick.
HMRC had their own policy to provide designated parking spaces as a reasonable adjustment for employees and had been adhering to it but when L moved site they failed to provide one. L claimed she was off sick due to the stress caused by HMRC’s failure to make reasonable adjustments, which made her disability worse. This was backed up by occupational health reports (OHR’s).
HMRC had not been in breach of its duty to make reasonable adjustments.
The alternative arrangements (a parking space on a first come first served basis) made by HMRC were found to be reasonable adjustments.
HMRC had failed to abide by its own policy on parking spaces but this policy was ‘discretionary and could not be depended upon’.
Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) decision:
The ET should have taken the HMRC’s own policy on parking spaces into account as adjustments set out in an employer’s own policy are likely to be reasonable unless they have good reasons for not implementing it.
The ET should have considered the stress caused to L by having to look for a parking space. This had been referred to in previous OHR’s and by L. The EAT found that ‘the absence of an express reference in later reports’ did not mean HMRC were unaware.
The ET applied the wrong test of reasonableness by failing to focus on the particular disadvantage caused to L.
Reminders for Employers
Employers should make sure they are taking in to account the particular disadvantage suffered by the employee.
Employers should keep in mind their own policies when making reasonable adjustments and only fail to follow them if there is a good reason to do so.
Employers need to look at the whole medical history of their employee during their employment with them rather than just the most recent evidence.
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*Disclaimer: While everything has been done to ensure the accuracy of the contents of this article, it is a general guide only. It is not comprehensive and does not constitute legal advice. Specific legal advice should be sought in relation to the particular facts of a given situation.