September 30, 2016

Disability Discrimination and Protection of Pay

In G4S Cash Solutions (UK) Ltd v Powell UKEAT/0243/15, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) considered whether reducing an employee’s pay amounted to disability discrimination.

Mr Powell could longer perform his role as an engineer servicing ATMs because of a disability. To accommodate this, his employer created a new, albeit less skilled, role for him. Initially his pay was protected but his employer then proposed to reduce it by around 10 percent. Mr Powell refused the reduction and as a result was dismissed. He brought a claim for disability discrimination.

The EAT upheld his claim. The EAT held that the duty to make reasonable adjustments could include a requirement to protect an employee’s pay in certain circumstances. Such a conclusion may not be common but it may be what is reasonably required. Here, the employer was a company with considerable financial resources and such an adjustment was easily affordable.

This will be an unwelcome decision for employers. However, whether protection of pay (or any other adjustment) is reasonable will depend on the facts, and employers should consider each case on its merits.

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