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Reasonable adjustments for disabled job applicants

As lawyers, we know employment law can be a minefield for many employers out there.  The recruitment process is the start of any employment relationship and comes with its own obstacles as you must ensure any recruitment process is fair and objective.  Employers can expose themselves to risks of claims from job applicants if the recruitment process is discriminatory in any way.

One recent example came out of the case of The Government Legal Service v Brookes which was heard before the Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT).  This case questioned whether a job applicant with Asperger’s Syndrome was discriminated against as a result of a requirement to sit a psychometric test as part of the recruitment process.  The recruitment process for lawyers to join the Government Legal Service (GLS) was described by the EAT as “fiendishly competitive”.  Brookes, the job applicant in this case, asked for reasonable adjustments on the ground for her disability.  While Brookes was allowed additional time to complete the test, she was informed that an alternative test format was not available.

Brookes successfully claimed indirect disability discrimination as it was determined the requirement to undergo a multiple-choice format test placed her at a particular disadvantage compared with those who did not suffer from her disability.  The Tribunal acknowledged whilst the test served a legitimate aim, the means of achieving that aim were not proportionate to it, so it could not be ‘objectively justified’ under the Equality Act 2010.  Ms Brookes was awarded £860 compensation and the Tribunal ordered GLS to provide a written apology.

This case serves as a timely reminder for employers that requests for reasonable adjustments during the recruitment process, or indeed any other time, should be given serious consideration.  In fact, if using application forms, we would highly recommend you ask applicants whether they require any reasonable adjustments to assist them to attend and participate in the recruitment process.

Here at SCE Solicitors, we like to keep you up to date with recent case law developments to bring you real life examples which you can apply to your business.  If you have any queries about your recruitment process, reasonable adjustments or any other employment law issue, please contact us on 01133 50 40 30 or at hello@scesolicitors.co.uk.

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SCE Solicitors is a boutique employment law and dispute resolution practice based in Leeds which advises clients nationwide.  Please note that the information in this blog is to provide information of general interest in a summary manner and should not be construed as individual legal advice. Readers should consult with SCE Solicitors or other professional counsel before acting on the information contained here.

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