05 April 2019 #Employment
In Linsley v Commissioners for Her Majesty's Revenue and Custom, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has given guidance on how a Tribunal should approach the issue of reasonableness in cases relating to reasonable adjustments for disabled employees.
The Claimant suffered with a disability, the symptoms of which included an urgent need to go to the toilet. This condition could be aggravated by stress. The Claimant worked for HMRC whose national policy on parking spaces was to prioritise those who needed spaces as a reasonable adjustment. Upon medical advice, the Claimant was given a dedicated parking space close to toilet facilities. However, when she moved sites, she was not given a dedicated parking space. She could still have a space near to toilet facilities but this required her to sign in at the office. Alternatively, she could park in an unauthorised zone, incur a sanction then apply for this to be disapplied (which HMRC had agreed would happen). The Claimant was signed off with stress which exacerbated her symptoms. She brought a claim against HMRC for failure to make reasonable adjustments (amongst other things).
The Employment Tribunal held that there had been no breach as the alternative arrangements were reasonable adjustments. Whilst it noted the failure by HMRC to follow their own policy, this was held to be a discretionary policy and could not be relied upon. However, the EAT upheld the Claimant’s appeal of this decision. It found that:
The case is a useful reminder to always focus on the disadvantage to the relevant employee when considering adjustments. If there is a company policy, then this should be followed unless careful consideration has been given to departing from the policy and there are persuasive reasons for doing so.