In a recent decision of the Employment Appeal Tribunal ("EAT"), it was determined that a reasonable adjustment under Section 20 of the Equality Act 2020 could include an undertaking by an employer to an employee of a certain condition and, failing that, a severance package would be considered for them to leave the business.
In the case of Hill v Lloyds Bank plc, Hill brought a case for failure to make reasonable adjustments under Section 21 of the Equality Act 2010.
Hill raised a grievance against two colleagues, M and B for bullying her. Despite the grievances not being upheld, this had a significant impact on Hill who was off sick due to stress. Upon Hill's return to work, it was clear that she would not be willing to work with M or B and they too did not wish to work with her in any capacity – so Lloyds determined that it is best to separate them.
Unfortunately, Hill continued to feel stress and anxiety at the prospect of potentially having to work with M or B in the future.
She sought an undertaking from Lloyds that they would not require her to work with or report into either of the individuals in the future but, if business needs absolutely call for that, that they would consider a severance package at least equal to what she would be entitled to upon redundancy. The Employment Tribunal decided in Hill's favour. On appeal, the EAT also determined that this was a reasonable request and that Lloyds failed to make reasonable adjustments by refusing to provide the undertaking.
It is a question of reasonableness
The requirement for an employer to make reasonable adjustments is incredibly important but this case proves that the reasonable adjustments necessary for a disabled employee can be varied and it is subjective. This showcases the reasons why an open line of communication is so important in those type of circumstances to ensure that employees are retained in the workplace and able to continue to fulfil their jobs with appropriate adjustments due to their disabilities.
Here at Gepp, we appreciate that it is not always easy to know what to do and how and this can cause stress to employers who are very keen to support their employees whilst at the same time protecting their business and its efficiency.
More often than not, making these adjustments will allow for a happier and more productive workforce – so this is worth remembering.
So, we are available to provide any advice necessary to clients that face these requests from their employees to allow them to make appropriate adjustments or pave the way for those to be considered.
Please do not hesitate to contact our expert team
This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.