Redundancy, disability leave and disability related sick leave

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2013 National Disabled Members' Conference
5 July 2013
Carried as Amended

Conference we are seeing an increasing number of employers including ‘attendance’ in redundancy selection procedures and we are concerned about the impact this has on disabled members and their ability to retain their employment. Under the Equality Act, employers are allowed to use attendance as a selection criterion but must make sure it does not discriminate against disabled employees.

Some employers consider all types of disability related absence in their redundancy process not just sick leave. But they must make reasonable adjustments to the redundancy selection process including disregarding:

• Planned Disability Leave for a fixed period of time including intermittent absences over a fixed period of time.

• Disability Related Special Leave needed at short notice for a reason relating to a disability that is not sickness related. Leave for reasonable adjustments. For example while waiting for Information Technology or other equipment to arrive and be installed.

• Disability related sickness absences. If this is included it could put a disabled person at a substantial disadvantage.

In many cases employers are not making these reasonable adjustments. All absence is being included in the selection process leading to disabled members being unfairly selected. Employers should make other reasonable adjustments to try to reduce the amount of time a disabled person needs to take time off. This could include flexible working or allowing disabled employees to work from home.

The Equality Act 2010 imposes a duty on employers to treat disabled employees more favourably and this applies to the redundancy selection criteria. Employers who include disability related absences in their redundancy criteria without making changes to the procedure could be in breach of these duties.

UNISON has campaigned for disability related absences to be recorded separately from sickness absence. Many employers still don’t do this and are making it very difficult to disregard appropriate absence in the selection process.

Conference is calling on National Disabled Members’ Committee to:

1)Campaign for all disability related leave to be recorded separately to sickness absence; and

2)Provide guidance to assist branches and regions to negotiate for disability related leave to be disregarded from redundancy selection processes.