Since December 1996, it has been unlawful for any service provider to treat disabled people less favourably than others for a reason related to their disability. Furthermore, since 1 October 2004, organisations have been expected to remove from their business operations any physical barriers preventing disabled people from using their services.
The Equality Act 2010 (which replaced the 'Disability Discrimination Act 1995') sets out when someone is considered to be disabled and protected from discrimination. According to the Act you’re disabled "if you have a physical or mental impairment that has a 'substantial' and 'long-term' negative effect on your ability to do normal daily activities."
MNBS believes that, law aside, businesses should always be thinking about how they can treat disabled employees and visitors in exactly the same way as non-disabled employees and visitors. Unfortunately, many disabilities are not so obvious without the person saying outright. Arguably, this is much easier for an employee (e.g. new starter) to disclose. But it is more difficult when the situation involves a visitor, such as a short-stay maintenance contractor, or trade counter customer. Yet, all businesses have a legal duty to do everything that is reasonably possible to ensure their premises (and services) are made easier for disabled persons to access.
So, how do you tackle the situation? A small, but reasonable, adjustment may be all that is required, although any changes made should always be considered an integral part of the risk assessment procedure.
- What is reasonable?
- How do I decide what is reasonable?
- How much will any changes cost?
- Are there alternative ways of providing a service to disabled customers without falling foul of the act?
- How do I make my premises safe and more accessible for disabled staff and visitors?
- What does health and safety law say about employing disabled people?
- Do I need to inform anyone if my premises are regularly visited by a person who is disabled?
- In the event of a disabled person visiting the first-floor premises, should I provide an evacuation chair as a method of escape?
- Do I have to provide a refuge in case of an emergency such as a fire on the premises?
- If I have a person on site having impaired mobility, disability or other impairment, what are the requirements for them leaving the building in the event of emergency evacuation?