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Workers with serious medical problems may have protection under the Equality Act 2010. The starting point is to look at the medical condition. Not all medical conditions are a disability. The condition must have a substantial adverse effect on the worker’s ability to carry out normal day to day activities.

The Code of Practice offers guidance and makes it very clear that stereotypes and assumptions are to be avoided.

Disability rights include:

  • Reasonable adjustments- an employer must consider steps to help workers remain in employment. The adjustments have to be reasonable- proportionate and likely to work. Examples would include: seeking medical advice, changes to hours, adaptions to work stations or even changes to performance procedures.
  • Direct discrimination- an employee must not be treated less favourably than other non-disabled workers because of their protected characteristic (eg: sex, race or disability) . This normally requires a comparator- a worker in a similar position but sometimes a hypothetical comparator is accepted.
  • Victimisation- a worker who raises issues about disability related rights must not be subject to detriments.
  • Discrimination arising from disability- this is a more recent right and protects employees from discrimination for things connected with the disability such as the need to take time off for medical appointments.

Disability cases can result in high value awards because it tends to be harder for disabled workers to find another job and stress can often make the condition worse.

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