Disabled people are entitled to have reasonable adjustments made in their workplace conditions in order to ensure that they are able to work and can do so effectively as part of their employment.
This right is provided for under the Equality Act 2010, which currently requires employers to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ for people with disabilities to help them work, which can include physical adjustments, as well as adjustments such as flexible working.
In 2014, the Court of Appeal decided that this right is not available to carers. In this case, the mother of a 17 year old disabled daughter was unable to seek a reasonable adjustment to her place of work in order that she could continue in work and conduct her duties as a carer.
We do not think that this is fair or right. The position has to change.
Today, our DLS Patron, Sir Ed Davey MP will introduce the Employment (Reasonable Adjustments for Carers) Bill in the House of Commons to amend the Equality Act to provide reasonable adjustments for carers, helping them balance employment with caring responsibilities. It is our hope at the Disability Law Service that the Government will adopt this Bill.
The introduction of the Bill coincides with the Wednesday in Carers Week, the day the campaign focuses on carers’ employment.
This Bill would send a powerful message to both carers and the business community to the effect that a carer is to be accommodated in the workplace in the same way as a disabled person. This would be suitable recognition of the substantial contribution to society that carers make whilst making it easier for carers to remain in fulfilling employment, thereby reducing the need for reliance on benefits. Moreover, it would provide a framework for the retention by business of the talent that carers provide, with the resulting savings in costs by business that this would promote.