The employment rights of people with disabilities, and the related responsibilities of employers, are outlined and enforced by the Equality Act (2010), and the UN Convention on disability rights. 

It is against the law for an employer to discriminate against a person because of a disability. This principle applies to all aspects of work and employment including:

  • Application forms
  • Interview arrangements
  • Aptitude or proficiency tests
  • Job offers
  • Terms of employment, including pay
  • Promotion, transfer and training opportunities
  • Dismissal or redundancy
  • Discipline and grievances

At the recruitment stage

As a job applicant, you can only be asked about your health or disability in order to answer the following questions:

  • Are you able to perform essential elements of the role?
  • Are you able to take part in an interview?
  • Are reasonable adjustments needed to enable you to participate in the selection process?

Employers are also permitted to enquire about a candidate's health or disability if they are looking to increase the number of disabled people they employ, or as part of national security checks.

In the workplace

Access to work

This government scheme provides advice, and in some cases, financial support to help employers make reasonable adjustments for their staff.

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An employer must make reasonable adjustments to ensure that a person with disabilities isn't at a disadvantage, and is able to carry out their duties safely. Examples of reasonable adjustments include:

  • Flexible working hours
  • Providing a ramp for wheelchair users
  • Providing specialist IT equipment, desks or chairs
  • Providing a designated car parking space
  • Adjusting sickness absence triggers

Employers are not expected to change the nature of a role. But they must meet the costs of ensuring that a person with disabilities is able to perform that job safely and effectively.

When something changes

If you're already in employment and become disabled, your employer cannot pressure you to resign or retire. They must keep your job open for you and make any reasonable adjustments needed to help you return to work and resume your role. This could include making provisions for a phased return to work, flexible or part-time hours, and allowing time for medical treatment or counselling.

Find out more about your rights and responsibilities in the workplace.

CABA can help

Call +44 (0) 1788 556 366 to arrange to speak to an expert legal advisor (UK only). All of our services are free, impartial and strictly confidential.