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Disability Discrimination Act 1995 and Employment

By: Lucy Debenham BA (hons) - Updated: 14 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Disability Discrimination Act 1995

Unfortunately, there are some disabled people from a variety of backgrounds that have suffered some level of discrimination in life from society. In 1995, a key piece of legislation was introduced to tackle the issue of discrimination against disabled people. It is hoped that the Act will help to encourage independent living and social inclusion for those with disabilities.

The Aims Of The Act

The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 sought to eliminate any kind of discrimination against disabled people in a number of areas, and improve the rights of disabled people. Put succinctly, the aims of the Act were to:
  • Make discrimination against disabled people unlawful in connection to employment, or the provision of goods, facilities and services
  • Make discrimination against disabled people unlawful in the management, buying, rental or disposal of land or premises
  • Ensure that provisions for disabled people in employment are met
  • Establish a National Disability Council

The Act came into force at the end of 1996, and was amended a decade later. The Disability Discrimination Act 2005 extended the rights of disabled people, striving for equality in all areas of life. These new amendments came into force in April 2006.

Employment

For disabled people, the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 paved the way for important changes in attitude and action within the workplace and during recruitment. It means that employers are not allowed to discriminate against a disabled person based on the grounds of their disability, without good reason.

If the employer believes that there is good reason for discriminating, such as health and safety, then they will have to explain why they think their actions are just. Similarly, when considering recruitment, promotion, redundancy or dismissal, again without good reason, it is unlawful to discriminate on the grounds of disability.

Reasonable Adjustments

In relation to the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, since 2004 all employers - with the exception of the armed forces - have faced new obligations to ensure that disabled people have reasonable adjustments and provisions made to their working environment.

The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 and 2005 also stipulates that employment practices should be subject to reasonable adjustments to accommodate any new or existing disabled employees. These reasonable adjustments should be made from the initial recruitment process through to employment. It means that disabled people are able to work to the best of their ability, and fulfil their working obligations.

For instance, during the recruitment process, a disabled person may only be able to apply via a certain medium. The employer should then make reasonable adjustments to their application criteria to ensure that the disabled person is able to submit their application. For people with learning disabilities, a reasonable adjustment to interviews and application processes that include tests might be extending the time allotted to the test, just as is practiced in schools.

In terms of reasonable adjustment in the workplace, the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 and its amendments ensure that disabled people are provided for when it comes to business practices and the premises that they work in. Their needs may stipulate that working hours needed to be re-arranged somewhat, or that special equipment is provided to improve access and manoeuvrability in the workplace. A learning disabled person may require documentation in larger print or Braille. The government’s Access to Work scheme can help fund these changes or additional requirements so that the onus to is not completely on the employer.

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