Hiring UK Employees: What is considered a disability in equality legislation?
If you are thinking of entering the UK market, it is likely you will have some questions about hiring employees in the UK. All employees in the UK are protected by the Equality Act 2010. The act protects those with a disability from suffering detrimental treatment in the recruitment process, and in the course of their employment, as a result of their disability. However, not all disabilities are obvious and so it is important for employers to understand what amounts to a disability under the law, to ensure you are compliant with your obligations under the Equality Act 2010. This post looks at some of the things you might not be aware of in relation to employees with a disability.
What amounts to a disability under the law?
Under the Equality Act, a disability is described as being a mental or physical impairment which has a “substantial and long-term adverse effect on the person’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities”. Employers do not need to establish what the cause of the impairment is, or even categorise the impairment as physical or mental. Many disabilities cause both physical and mental impairment. Similarly, disabilities do not need to be apparent for the applicant or employee to qualify for protection under the Equality Act.
However, a disability must be long-term to qualify the candidate for such protection. Long-term is defined as lasting for one year or more, and likely to last the rest of the person’s life, or to reoccur. A disability does not have to be continually present to qualify, and may change in severity periodically.
There are exceptions for certain people on having to show a substantial and long-term effect on their ability to carry out day-to-day tasks. This applies specifically to those who have cancer, HIV, or multiple sclerosis. The Equality Act details that a person with any of these conditions is considered to have a disability from the day they are diagnosed. Furthermore, where a consultant ophthalmologist has certified a person as blind, severely sight-impaired, or partially sighted, the Equality Act defines that person as being disabled.
As you can see, discrimination and equality law can be complex, so it is always best to seek advice and assistance on matters that affect you. At Goodwille, we have an HR Department of specialists with extensive HR experience who can advice you on equality legislation and any other issues or questions you may have regarding employees in the UK. Get in touch with us today for more information.