24 October 2014: Should an employer disregard disability-related absence as a ‘reasonable adjustment’ under the Equality Act?
This was considered by the EAT in General Dynamics Information Technology Ltd v Carranza UKEAT/0107/14. Mr Carranza got a final written warning for repeated absences, about 90% of which were disability-related. He was then dismissed for being off sick again following an unrelated shoulder injury.
Mr Carranza argued that because his final warning was connected to disability-related absence, it should be disregarded as a ‘reasonable adjustment’ under the Equality Act. The EAT disagreed. The fact that the employer had shown leniency in the past did not mean it was legally bound to do so again regardless of the business impact.
Many employers worry that they have to disregard disability-related sickness absence. The Carranza decision suggests that employers can reasonably take into account all absence, whether or not it is disability-related. If ‘reasonable adjustments’ cannot ensure satisfactory attendance, employers may take steps up to and including dismissal.
Reculver Solicitors is a firm of solicitors specialising in Employment Law and based in London Central WC1 just by Chancery Lane underground, in Holborn. We advise on disability discrimination, unfair dismissal and other matters. Call today on 0207 118 0950 or email us at email@example.com. Visit www.reculversolicitors.co.uk