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Employment

Driving adjustments for disabled workers

Sunday, June 16, 2019

M Linsley v Commissioners for her Majesty’s Revenue and Custom

Ms Linsley, had been diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, which is classified as a disability.

The condition carries an unfortunate symptom, tenesmus, which is a very urgent and sudden onset of needing to evacuate the bowels. This urgent need to go to the toilet can often be aggravated by stress.

Due to this condition Ms Linsley had occupational health assessments organised by her employer and one positive outcome was the suggestion that she would benefit from the allocation of a dedicated parking space.

Since 2012 Ms Linsley worked across various HMRC sites and drove her own car which she was able to park conveniently close to her office in a dedicated space. Although not a blue badge holder HMRC’s actions on the outcome of such occupational health assessments were to adopt recommendations as part of their policy of making reasonable adjustments.

Ms Linsley started a new role in November 2016, which involved relocating to a new office and she duly requested a dedicated parking space. As an alternative to the dedicated space, she was offered parking near the toilets. This option was provided if she failed to get a parking space near the building (and toilets) on a first-come, first-served basis and in addition as a back-up HMRC agreed Ms Linsley could park in an unauthorised zone. She was assured that she would not be subject to any sanction however she would be required to move her car and not leave it there all day.

Ms Linsley was unhappy with the new arrangements and the lack of a dedicated parking space. As a consequence, after a couple of months, Ms Linsley was off work with a stress-related illness. Occupational Health identified the parking arrangements as a contributory factor toward the illness in that the stress of the parking issue made her symptoms worse.

Ms Linley subsequently brought a claim for disability discrimination alleging that HMRC had failed to make reasonable adjustments as they related to the new position and location.

The EAT found in favour of Ms Linsley and upheld her claim. It was clear that HMRC had failed to adhere to its own policy of providing a “dedicated” parking space close to the building entrance.

A note for employers: If there is a policy of making and applying reasonable adjustments, those actions should be consistently applied and not ignored or overlooked. Failing to stick to an organisation’s own policy is a clear red flag in such situations and regardless of the steps taken in this case, HMRC failed to apply consistency to their adjustments.

If you are concerned about issues surrounding cases of actual or potential disability discrimination and/or the application and management of reasonable adjustments for
staff please feel free to drop us a line. Call Robert Gibson or Sally Lomas Fletcher on 0191 2328451
or e-mail sallyfletcher@samuelphillips.co.uk

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