Changes in disability discrimination law


Small businesses with less than 15 employees are now liable to prosecution in disability discrimination cases following a change in the law.

Business News updates for small businesses


Small businesses with less than 15 employees are now liable to prosecution in disability discrimination cases following a change in the law.

Small businesses with less than 15 employees are now liable to prosecution in disability discrimination cases following a change in the law.

Before the recent change businesses with less than 15 employees were exempt from the law, but Nichola Evans of solicitors Rowe Cohen says that “tens of thousands” of small businesses will now be affected by it.

She warns that there is no limit on the amount of compensation an employee may be awarded in disability discrimination cases. The average award for “hurt feelings” in 1999 was £3,636.

Unfortunately, it can be difficult for a smaller company without a dedicated HR department to fully comprehend the discrimination laws. A company must “take all reasonable steps to ensure that the rights of disabled employees” are protected.

Employers should be careful that their actions, or lack of actions, do not prompt a “constructive dismissal” which occurs when a disabled employeeÂ’s job is made too difficult for them to continue. An employee can then take legal action if the company did not take reasonable action to make things easier for them.

EvansÂ’ advice for small firms is to be “extremely vigilant” about employeeÂ’s complaints. If an employee complains of or shows signs of physical pain, such as back pain caused by lifting, or stress related to work, it is best to talk to them about it and see if anything can be done to remedy the situation.

Evans strongly advises recording all interviews of this kind even if the employee says that it is not a problem.

A summary of the discrimination laws is available on the Disability Rights Commission website at www.drc-gb.org.

(5/8/02)

Comments (0)