Are employers obliged to make reasonable adjustments for non-disabled employees who have responsibilities to care for a disabled family member or others with whom they are closely associated?
The Equality Act 2010 introduced the concept of associative discrimination upon our statute books meaning that employers could not discriminate against their employees or workers by treating them less favourably because of that person's association with someone else who has a protected characteristic covered by the Equality Act. For example, a non-disabled employee might be entitled to bring a claim of direct disability discrimination where they feel they have been treated less favourably because they have a disabled child.
But what about the question of reasonable adjustments? Is an employer under a duty to make reasonable adjustments for a non-disabled employee whose daughter has a disability, for example, Downs Syndrome?
That was the question that had to be addressed by the Court of Appeal last month. In a relatively short judgment, it confirmed that employers are not under any duty under the Equality Act 2010 to make reasonable adjustments for non-disabled employees. The duty of reasonable adjustments only applies where the employee, applicant or worker is themselves disabled.