Duty to make reasonable adjustments does not apply to those associated with disabled person

26 July 2014
Duty to make reasonable adjustments does not apply to those associated with disabled person

The Court of Appeal has held that the duty to make reasonable adjustments applies only to an employee or individual who is disabled. It does not extend to someone associated with a disabled person, such as a carer.

In the case of Hainsworth v Ministry of Defence, an employee requested a change of location in order to meet the needs of her daughter who had Downs syndrome. She argued that the request amounted to a reasonable adjustment and claimed associative disability discrimination for a failure to make reasonable adjustments.

The Court of Appeal concluded that Article 5 of the framework directive for equal treatment in employment and occupation (2000/78/EC) under which the Equality Act 2010 is interpreted, limits the provisions which should be made by employers to individuals who are themselves disabled.

Employers may wish to keep this decision in mind in cases where individuals claim associative disability discrimination on the basis that an employer has failed to make reasonable adjustments for them. However such cases should nonetheless be handled sensitively and in line with other legislation which may apply, to ensure that requests are treated fairly and do not lead to unnecessary litigation.

For further information, see the diversity and equality section of HRBird.

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