Recruiting and employing disabled staff

What the law says on employing disabled staff

The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) 1995 makes discrimination on the grounds of disability unlawful. Employers may not discriminate against a disabled person when recruiting, employing, promoting, dismissing or making redundant members of staff.

Since the 1st of October 2004, where discrimination occurs ‘on the grounds of’ disability, this is counted as direct discrimination and will not be able to be justified.

Discrimination also occurs when a person is, for a reason related to their disability:

  • unjustifiably treated less favourably than others
  • subjected to harassment
  • victimised

Discrimination also occurs when an employer fails to make a reasonable adjustment in relation to a disabled person and that failure cannot be justified.

Reasonable means in proportion to the situation and your circumstances, balancing the costs involved and your resources.

An adjustment is any action that an employer takes so that a disabled employee or job applicant is not placed at a disadvantage in comparison to others. This could include adjustments to recruitment, selection, training and staff benefits. It also includes making adjustments to the premises, adjusting and/or adding flexibility to work patterns and rest breaks, and giving disabled employees time off for medical appointments.

Failure to make adjustments can be justified only when the cost/effort would place an unreasonable burden on the business, or when there is no adjustment that would make it possible to keep that person on.

The law currently applies only to businesses with 15 or more employees, and does not require certain occupations to meet the DDA requirements. From October 2004, the law will be extended to cover employers of all sizes, and most previously exempt occupations will be covered by the new legislation.

Business Advice – Recruiting & Employing Disabled Staff
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