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Disability is not always obvious

The Equality Act 2010 (external site)  defines a person as disabled if they have a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on a person’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.

  • ‘Normal day-to-day’ means things that people do on a regular or daily basis, such as reading, writing, using the telephone, having a conversation and travelling by public transport
  • ‘Long-term’ usually means the impairment should have lasted or be expected to last at least a year.
  • ‘Substantial’ means not minor or trivial.

The key thing is not the impairment but its effect. Some people don’t realise that impairments such as migraines, dyslexia, asthma and back pain can count as a disability if the adverse effect on the individual is substantial and long-term. Some conditions automatically count as disabilities for the purposes of The Equality Act 2010, from the point of first diagnosis – these are cancer, HIV and multiple sclerosis (MS).

Reasonable adjustments

Under the 2010 Equality Act , employers are required to make reasonable adjustments for disabled employees. The act states that employers must take reasonable steps so that the employee can carry out their job, and, provided that an adjustment would be reasonable, an employer has no defence for not carrying it out. Employers are also expected to act positively and constructively around reasonable adjustments.

Funding to support reasonable adjustments is available through Access to Work (external site); a Department for Work and Pensions scheme. Grants are available for people with a disability, health issue or mental health condition who are in employment, self employed or about to start a job or work trial.

Access to Work can support individuals to access funding for things such as:

  • Adaptations to equipment
  • Purchase of specialist equipment
  • A support worker or job coach to support the individual in the workplace
  • Funding to get to work if the individual is unable to use public transport
  • Disability awareness training for your colleagues
  • Communicators at job interviews.

In addition, Remploy delivers a Workplace Mental Health Support Service  in partnership with Access to Work, which aims to support individuals experiencing mental distress in the workplace to remain in, or return to their role.