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Duty to make reasonable adjustments triggered by employer’s expectation

In Carreras v United First Partnership Research, the EAT held that an expectation made by the employer that a disabled employee would work late was capable of amounting to a ‘provision, criterion or practice’ (PCP) under the Equality Act 2010 which, if placing a disabled employee at a substantial disadvantage, would trigger the duty to make reasonable adjustments.

The employee, in this case, suffered a serious accident resulting in him taking several weeks off of work. He returned to work on reduced hours.  The employee subsequently made requests to work late which eventually led to the employer assuming he would work late.  When the employee objected to working late, he was told if he did not like it he could leave.  The employee resigned and claimed that the employer had failed to make reasonable adjustments for him by imposing a ‘requirement’ that he work late.

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The Employment Tribunal restricted the Claimant’s claim to the wording he had used in his claim form and, as such, dismissed his claim on the basis that the employer’s expectation or assumption was not a ‘requirement’.  However, the Employment Appeal Tribunal said that this approach was too technical and allowed the appeal.  It went on to say that the PCP should be interpreted widely so as to include any formal or informal policies, rules, practices, arrangements or qualifications including one off decisions and actions.  The expectation to work late was capable of meeting the definition of a PCP and the case was remitted back to the Tribunal for further consideration.

This case is yet another example of the courts favouring a wide interpretation of a PCP.  For employers, the case serves as a reminder to be cautious about informal practices even where these have been instigated by the employee.  For employment lawyers, it is also a reminder of the discretion Tribunals have in determining how a Claimant has pleaded their case!

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This information is for guidance purposes only and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice. Please refer to the full General Notices on our website.

Monica Atwal

Managing Partner

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+44 118 960 4605

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