A recent case through the Equality Tribunal has highlighted the importance of making reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities. The employer repeatedly refused to accommodate an employee who has multiple sclerosis and as a result, the tribunal awarded €30,000 to the employee.
The result, 'however', could have been easily avoided, had the employer engaged with the employee and made some simple adjustments to the employees work.
By reviewing the working environment and making a few small changes, the employee could have continued to work for the business and both parties could have benefited. As with all employee issues, communication is key, both on the part of the employee and employer, to determine the extent of the disability and the accommodations needed to perform work tasks.
Every case is different. Employers will get the best from each person, if they are able to identify what will help employees do the best job possible.
It is important that employers review the working environment and where possible introduce changes to alleviate challenges for employees with a disability. The change/modification must however be feasible for the business.
It is useful to:
- Discuss accommodations with the employee and talk to them about what they would find useful to help them perform their job.
- Get expert advice – there are a number of support networks available. For more information give us a call on 01 676 2014.
- Plan ahead – when a new employee starts or an employee’s job changes, planning ahead will minimise disruption and support a smooth transition.
- Take reasonable action – employers are only required to put in place accommodations which are reasonable. Most accommodations are low or no cost and support is available. Grants are available through the Department of Social Protection.
An employee with a disability and their manager should evaluate such accommodations at regular intervals. Over time, special provisions may no longer be needed or requirements may change due to a progressive condition. An employee should advise their manager of any changes required.