Employers naturally worry about whether they are getting it right as regards disability and making reasonable adjustments. A recent case shows that often taken some steps towards assisting the employee will be sufficient. In Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Jobcentre Plus) v Higgins the EAT has looked into a situation where an employer had agreed to a change in the employee’s working week during a period of phased returning to work over 13 weeks, reducing the employee’s hours considerably. The employee had a lengthy absence due to a heart condition. The employer expected the employee to build up gradually to his normal hours by the end of 13 weeks and stated that, if he did not feel able to meet this target, he should discuss a longer term change in his contractual terms with his manager. The employee took the view that he was unwilling to return to work at all unless the plan was extended over a longer period. He was dismissed and claimed the employer had failed to make reasonable adjustments.
The employee lost.
Our thoughts: this case shows that often the employee is trying to dictate what they want to the employer and they gloss over the key issue, namely that the adjustment they are asking for has to be aimed at removing some disadvantage they are actually at as a result of their disability. Often employers do make many sensible adjustments but sometimes the employee wants more: there will come a point where the employer can say ‘enough’.