Duty to Make Reasonable Adjustments

Victoria Shepherd

Victoria Shepherd

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 14 October 2015

Dyer v London Ambulance NHS Trust

Where a disabled employee is concerned, an employer has a duty to make “reasonable adjustments”. In this case, an employee who worked within a busy control room developed a severe reaction to aerosol body spray. This control room was the busiest of its type in the world. Her reactions were of increasing severity and culminated in a near-death experience.

Having consulted with a leading medical expert in this field, the employer concluded that it was not practicable for a reasonable adjustment to be made that could mitigate this risk and subsequently dismissed her on capability grounds. The employee brought claims for unfair dismissal and disability discrimination to the employment tribunal but was unsuccessful. The tribunal agreed that, in a control room environment, an aerosol-free policy would not be reasonable or practicable.

This case is a perfect demonstration of an employer acting in precisely the right way – and, as a result, avoiding a costly claim. They consulted with a medical expert, took progressive action after each incident where a reaction occurred and carried out a thorough, objective assessment of whether any adjustments could be made. All of these were taken into account by the tribunal.

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