What performance can an employer expect from a disabled worker?
You’re an employer with workers who have to meet targets but one worker has a disability. How easy is it to let him go without discriminating against him?
Well, you’ve got to realise how the law is complicated, and how ‘normal day-to-day’ activities relate to workers with disabilities.
Hertfordshire firm, Booker Ltd. discovered this when they had to go to an Employment Tribunal and an appeal after sacking a disabled warehouse worker in July 2013.
Managers thought they had an objective way to measure their warehouse workers’ performance after agreeing with unions expected and minimum levels.
Their worker, Mr. Banaszczyk, had been OK after he was hired to move boxes, including 25kg boxes, in a warehouse in February 2008.
Yet, difficulties started after he had a car accident in February 2009. He had to take time off work and his performance dipped below minimum levels. Even an occupational health worker advised that he could not do his job and may have to be sacked.
But when he was, Mr. Banaszczyk went to the Watford Employment Tribunal alleging unfair dismissal and disability discrimination.
The judge first agreed with Booker Ltd. Using the Equality Act 2010, the court heard that he could do normal activities in his personal life. Handling heavy boxes was specialist and unusual and therefore he wasn’t disabled, they ruled.
Things changed when Mr. Banaszczyk went to an Employment Appeals Tribunal to check whether European Union Directives law had been properly applied.
They judged that normal professional activities included moving heavy boxes. If Mr. Banaszczyk could not lift them that meant he was disabled and should be treated as such.
Given both UK and EU law say disabled workers should be provided with support where practical, employers may need to change their policies.