Are you disabled and have been made redundant or are at risk of being made redundant? Know your rights! Read on with Cashfloat and watch a video to learn how disabled employees can help themselves in their workplace.
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The Difficulties Facing Disabled Employees In The Workplace
After the financial crisis of 2008, there were many redundancies in the UK. Both the abled and less-abled workers lost their jobs. Finding a job when you are physically challenged is hard enough. But, when the economic climate is in a downward spiral it is even more so.
Add to that the situation of employers shedding many jobs. A substantial amount of disabled employees feel they have been discriminated against when they have been chosen for redundancy. This feeling has led to more of the disabled taking employers to an employment tribunal, claiming that discrimination was behind the choice.
Changes to the charges for employment tribunals
In recent times there have been some sweeping changes to the charges that are in place if you choose to take your employer to a tribunal claiming unfair dismissal or discrimination. Before 2013, it cost nothing to go to an employment tribunal if you were representing yourself. If you had a solicitor, there would be legal fees. Some took cases on a no win no fee basis.
Since the introduction of the 2013 Employment Tribunals (Constitution and Rules of Procedure) Regulations, it now costs a substantial amount to file a case. Many people were deterred from taking action even though they had legitimate cases.
Research shows that a startling seven out of ten individuals who would have taken action. However, they have now been deterred by the substantial court costs involved. There has been a reduction of around 79% in claims because the potential complainants cannot afford the £1,200 in fees.
The responsibilities of an employer
Employers and those who work in the HR departments of large companies have a duty of care towards disabled employees. This responsibility involves looking at individual circumstances before selecting redundancies using criteria that are detrimental to the handicapped.
It is not only unlawful, but companies which follow the wrong approach will lose the skills and experience of valuable employees. Also, selecting people to be made redundant in a fair and equal manner will result in less stress for the remaining employees. They will be able to see that the process has been achieved in a transparent and open manner.
Re-deploying staff in times of redundancy
Under the current law, an employer must, wherever possible, offer re-deployment for staff instead of redundancy. In the case of a disabled employee, it is important for an organisation to try to make reasonable adjustments so that the employee can take up a new position instead of being dismissed.
These reasonable adjustment could mean working from home for some days a week. Or it could mean passing on some of the more challenging physical aspects of a job to another employee. An in-depth assessment should be carried out to see if there is any specialist technology which could be of assistance.
Reassessing and understanding the capabilities of an employee
In some instances disabled employees may require some long term absences. New managers are not always fully cognisant of this fact. Any new manager should be acutely aware of the circumstances of the individual and not score them negatively for long absences when this is part of the norm.
When restructuring takes place an employer or manager should always investigate the skills that an employee has. They must be careful not to make assumptions about their abilities just because they have a disability.
If you are a disabled employee, watch this video by the Equality and Human Rights Commission to see what resonable adjustments you can ask your employer to make for you in your workplace.
Consultations about redundancy
Sometimes employers can fall foul of the law. This may be because they do not fully consult with disabled employees when redundancies are on the cards. If someone is on long term sick leave they may miss out of the usual meetings and notifications about upcoming redundancies.
In addition, the employees who are too scared to declare their disability for fear of losing their job are also at risk. An employer or HR manager should be able to pick up on this. One main cue is repeated leave of absence for sickness. Employers should take steps to get to the bottom of the matter.
Equally, if an employee who was formerly working successfully in a position should experience a drop in performance, this is a clue that something is wrong. They may be suffering from ill health or a new disability.
Laws regarding redundancy and discrimination against disabled employees
The Equality Act of 2010 makes it clear that an employer cannot discriminate against an employee because of disability. This is an important factor when they are choosing who to dismiss. Therefore, if you are asked to complete any kind of criteria test that is impossible due to a disability, this is an unlawful act.
However, in order to assist an employer, it is fair to say that an employee should declare their disability and not keep it a secret. No employer can discriminate against you if you declare your disability. Therefore, so there is nothing to fear from being up front about your state of health. Similarly, an employer is entitled to ask questions about your health especially if you have been off sick for a prolonged period of time. However, they cannot dismiss you or select you for redundancy on the basis of long term absences due to ill health.
Disabled employees are entitled to the same rights as every other employee in a company. So, whether you need extra assistance for access to a work station or some other help to complete your work in a satisfactory manner, the company is bound to offer as much help as is needed. When it comes time to choose employees for redundancy, you should receive the same courteous treatment that every employee expects. If this means a visit to your home for a face to face meeting that should be arranged.
Disabled people have a hard time in getting work even though they have skills and talents that are of value. However, currently legislation is in place to make sure that they are not exposed to discrimination when it comes to redundancy. This will hopefully ensure that disabled employees have healthy finances and do not have to resort to bad credit short term loans to help them with living costs.
Do you feel too sick to work? Click here to learn your rights.