Addleshaw Goddard

UK 200 2013 position: 23

Disability discrimination: no obligation to make reasonable adjustments for employees associated with disabled employees

The Court of Appeal has decided that employers are not obliged to make reasonable adjustments for employees who are not themselves disabled, but who are associated with a disabled person (Hainsworth v Ministry of Defence).

The Equality Act 2010 (EqAct) provides that employers are obliged to make reasonable adjustments to any provision, criterion or practice that places a disabled person at a substantial disadvantage when compared with non-disabled persons. Such adjustments are to made for disabled job applicants for employment and disabled employees. On the face of it, there is no requirement for employers to make adjustments for non-disabled job applicants or employees, where they happen to be associated with a disabled employee.

In this case, the claimant worked for the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and was based in Germany. Although the claimant was not disabled, she had a disabled daughter. The MoD provided schooling for the children of its employees. However, there was no provision for children with significant needs. As a result, the claimant’s daughter could not be schooled in Germany. This led to the claimant asking the MoD to relocate her to the UK, in order to accommodate her daughter’s needs. The MoD rejected the request…

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