The Disability Discrimination Act (searchable under The Equality Act) was introduced to protect disabled people during the recruitment process and throughout their employment with a company.
This includes everything from:
- terms and conditions of their employment,
- dismissal/disciplinary procedures,
- protection from harassment,
- promotion prospects,
- and training opportunities.
Yet, despite this clear Act, not all employers always adhere to it.
This is not only frustrating for the candidate/employee, but it’s a serious offence.
Here’s a quick guide on what to do and whether this applies to you.
Do I need to tell my employer that I have a disability?
In short, no.
When you’re applying for a position at a company, you’re under no obligation to let them know.
However, it’s always advised that you do.
This is so that the employer can make any necessary special arrangements when you attend an interview.
Legally, an employer can briefly ask about any disabilities you may have during the application process.
It is, however, up to you whether you want to fill this section out or not.
Usually this section is placed in the equal rights/ diversity form – which isn’t compulsory.
Are you being discriminated because of your disability?
Before you start proceeding with complaints and taking more serious actions, it’s vital to know the ins and outs of whether you have a case or not.
Some common signs of prejudice and wrongdoing include:
- Getting treated less favourably than someone without a disability.
- Being discriminated because you know or are connected to someone who is disabled – i.e. you have to care for a loved one who is disabled.
- Employers not making the necessary adjustments to accommodate you during an interview or in employment.
- Being harassed, bullied or victimised about your disability by someone associated with the company.
As an applicant or employee, you shouldn’t feel like you’re being treated any differently to any other person.
If you’re offered an interview or the job itself, the company should always make any changes you need to make your journey to the building hassle-free.
Whether that’s adding a ramp for wheelchairs to get up a step or making sure that you are situated nearer to a toilet, your needs should be seen to.
This also includes your contract too.
If your disability means you have to attend your local GP every so often to pick up medication or get assistance in some shape or form, they should detail this in your contract.
As a result, this will give you the legally binding proof in written form, should they go against it.
The only jobs that aren’t covered by the Disability Discrimination Act are ones for the armed forces.
What should I do if I think I’m being discriminated?
If you think your situation covers any of the above, it’s vital that you take action.
Just because you have a disability, doesn’t mean that you should suffer in silence.
If it’s possible, your first solution should be to talk to your employer about it. And if you feel comfortable, arrange a face-to-face meeting with them.
You can even record it (with their permission) so that you have the evidence if required.
If you don’t feel like you can do this, feel free to email or phone them.
You may find that some employers simply don’t know what they’re doing wrong.
In that case, they will usually look to rectify any issues immediately.
If actions aren’t implemented or you don’t feel like you’re being listened to, make a formal complaint with a senior member of staff (if possible).
Mentioning the Disability Discrimination Act and the Equality Act usually makes them take note.
Just remember to keep any emails, calls or letters handy in case you have to take it to a tribunal.
What should I do if nothing changes?
If you still don’t receive a resolution to your case, you’ll have to take it to an employment tribunal.
You may feel anxious about doing this, but there’s no reason to.
The solicitor (or lawyer) dealing with your case will put all of the emphasis on the company to disprove the claim.
That means that the pressure is taken away from having to prove it.
To make a valid claim, it’s vital that you take action no longer than three months after the incident or case of discrimination.
Doing so may lead to the claim being dismissed.
If you need any extra help or feel uneasy about the whole process, you should contact the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
They’ll help guide you through the whole process.
The Commission will let you know what you need to gather to make a strong claim against an employer.
Not only that, but they’ll also look to provide any emotional support too.
Hopefully it won’t get as far as our last section, but it really is important to bring up any concerns you may have.
Usually your employer will be more than happy to help and put the record straight.
However, if you are unhappy with your employer and are based in the Birmingham area, why not consider doing temporary work?
We work with caring employers so should you find you’re interested you can find out more about working for us here.