Approaching workplace disability empathetically

Employment law has long since been in place to provide both employers and employees with clear and concise guidelines and protection. However, 2010’s Equality Act has spun sideways the operations of even the most exemplary HR payroll professionals. Since the introduction of the Act, some of the largest amounts on record have been paid out to ex-employees on grounds of disability discrimination. Whilst some cases bring the behaviour or certain employers in to serious question, other cases might easily have been avoided if HR payroll teams were forearmed with clarity and understanding about the provisions they are expected to adhere to.

A staggering £400,000 discrimination award was paid out to an ex Branch Manager of Jewson, the national builder’s merchant. In this particular case, the Manager in question suffered a stroke, but was deemed well enough to resume his duties by medical professionals, under the proviso that undue stress was to be avoided. However, Jewson dismissed this Manager five months after his stroke, claiming that he was no longer fit for purpose due to stress being part and parcel of his role.

The findings of the employment tribunal reflected exceptionally badly on Jewson, as their sickness records for the previous two years were unearthed and scrutinised. They revealed that 204 other employees had taken in excess of six month’s sick leave, and a further 64 in excess of 12 months, without ultimately losing their jobs. The overwhelming conclusion was that the empathy and common sense naturally expected of employers and their HR payroll teams was badly lacking. It cost Jewson dearly, both financially and in terms of its credibility.

We, at Moorepay, might be recognised, first and foremost, as a leading outsourced payroll company. Yet we have offered experienced and professional combined HR payroll services for just as long. Existing and new clients alike might share concerns about the impact of the Equality Act and disability discrimination on their businesses. We can navigate the minefield both with them and for them, to ensure that they remain on the right side of the law.

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