The Importance of Treating Staff Fairly

All employers should ensure that they are treating their staff fairly and that any reasonable adjustments are made to assist them within the workplace, especially where they have a disability. Employers should also ensure that their staff are also reminded of their obligations to treat their cowards fairly. Failure to ensure that all staff are treated equally and failure to make reasonable adjustments for a disabled worker, could give rise to a claim in the Employment Tribunal.

Last month Mr Caulcott bought a claim against the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) alleging that they had failed to make reasonable adjustments and that the was treated unfairly because of his disabilities.

The Facts

Mr Caulcott suffered from chromic asthma, anxiety and eczema, as a result of this both his GP and DWP’s occupational health assessor advised that he should not work on the frontline. However, DWP had ignored this advice and moved him from an office role to the frontline, where he was often faced with claimants who were angry due to their benefits being sanctioned.

In March 2014 Mr Caulcott suffered a serious asthma attack, and was rushed to hospital, after taking part in a training seminar that was held in a small room, which caused him to feel anxious. Following his return to work, he was given a written warning due to taking two and a half additional sick days than he was allowed. In addition, it was alleged that the DWP pressured him to move to another office.

Further to this there was an email sent in which a DWP manager emailed another manager at Mr Caulcott’s branch stating “Let him whinge… and raise it at his ET. He doesn’t deserve us to be nice to him”.

Consequently, the Employment Tribunal found in favour of Mr Caulcott and ruled that DWP had treated him less favourably because of his disabilities.

What Should You Do?

As a first step you should ensure that if you employ anybody with a disability or you have a reasonable belief that they could have a disability, then appropriate adjustments are made to accommodate them within the workplace, if needed. In addition, it is advisable to ensure that staff are given equality and diversity training, especially those in more senior roles such as managers. Finally, you should ensure that you have a consistent approach when dealing with anybody who is accused of treating their co-workers less favourably.

This blog was originally written by Chris Boyle. However if you would like to discuss this blog in more detail, please contact Judith Dugdale from our Small Business team. Alternatively, please call 01772 821021.