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Please can anyone give me some advice on employment law regarding "reasonable adjustment"?

(3 Posts)
dontrunwithscissors Tue 25-Oct-11 14:51:32

I'll try to keep this clear, but there?s a lot going on. I?d be really grateful if anyone with knowledge of employment law could try to decipher this.

My apologies that this is so long. If it's too much to read, it would really help to get some information on the two questions at the bottom of this post.

OK...I'm in the process of appealing a decision to not promote me to a higher grade. (I'm a University lecturer).

- I returned to work in January 2011 after my second maternity leave.

- Prior to returning I went to Occupational Health to tell them that I was suffering from postnatal depression. (DD2 was 11 months at that point). The postnatal depression was nasty. I was hospitalised for 6 weeks, and at the time of going back to work things were far from settled. My psychiatrist was still trying to find a combination of medication that would stabilise me.

- Prior to my return to work, Occupational Health wrote to my line manager (School Dean) and detailed the problems, as well as the fact that I had also experienced similar problems after the birth of my first daughter. In particular, they recommended that I be given support in re-building my research agenda, which is where I'd really felt the effect of my illness. They also informed my employer that I'm more than likely covered by the Disability Discrimination Act.

- I went through a number of medication changes in the following months. I continued to see Oc Health and they kept my line manager and HR up to date with the continuing problems in trying to stabilise things. My psych now things that I have bipolar II.

- In September this year, I applied for a promotion from grade 7 to grade 8. My colleagues expressed surprise that I was not already on grade 8. (The reasons are complicated, but it was partly due to the fact that I'd not been well enough to go through this + the fact that I'd been away on two maternity leaves.)

- There was a general consensus that this move was long overdue. The four Professors in my department wrote a lengthy letter giving their absolute support for my promotion, and outlining why they thought I should move up.

- The outcome of this was that I was denied promotion. The reason they gave me was that my research was not up to scratch. They placed a lot of emphasis in the rejection letter stating that they had made "reasonable adjustments."

- I would argue that they have not.

- They said that I'd been given a 'lighter teaching load' to enable me to do 'further research.' I was not. I temporarily reduced my contract to 80% for the first 3 months back. Thus, I did not have a spare 20% of time to work on my research as I was not at work and not being paid to do work.
- When I looked at the workload model, I was actually down as 100% during this time, and my workload was equal to all of my peers. In other words, I was only being paid 80%, but I was doing a workload equal to 100%.

I am currently putting together an appeal. My questions are:
1) Should promotion committees make ?reasonable adjustment? when they are considering your performance? If so, what would be considered reasonable?
2) Is there a basis for saying that, whilst they claim to have made reasonable adjustment in my workload to accommodate Oc Health?s advice that I should be supported in my research, the reality is that I have not? If you take into account the fact that I was on an 80% contract, I was actually doing a heavier workload than my colleagues. Could I therefore claim that their criticism that I have not published since my return is partly a product of the fact that they have not given me the support that they say they did?

Many thanks to anyone who has the time and patience to offer advice.

KatieMortician Tue 25-Oct-11 18:03:49

It depends if the requirement to publish is a requirement of the grade increase.

A reasonable adjustment is to allow someone to complete the required tasks of the job. So if the requirment is to publish 8 papers in two years and that is not possible due to a physical impairment (let's say you went deaf and could no longer use the phone or follow what was happening in meetings so well) then your employer should make reasonable adjustment. These might be installing software on your computer to allow you to use text on the telephone, having an assistant for meetings to take notes, giving you slightly longer to complete key tasks, reorganising your workload so tasks that require you to hear are either carried out a different way so you can participate or delegated to someone else if that's not possible and you pick up additional tasks from their workload that you can carryout so you have equal work.

However, your condition is mental (still covered by the Equality Act 2010 and previously the DDA as you mentioned). It sounds like it would have been reasonable to give you some extra support to organise your work load (ie your research agenda). That may have included giving you longer to complete your research than would normally be allowed and/or providing you with someone to talk to but you would still have to do the required tasks.

I suppose the questions are:

* Have you done the required research and publication?

* Are you considered to have a disability as definied by the Equality Act/DDA?

* If so, were adjustments were made to accommodate your disability?

* If so, were they reasonable and suitable?

missingmumxox Tue 25-Oct-11 21:52:34


This didn't read as reasonable adjustment, but a phased, modified or temp adjustment to get you back into work which otherwise would have required you to be off sick whilst your medications and symptoms where febrile.

however this could i suppose be interpreted as a reasonable adjustment at this time, but as this would also be available to any member of staff equality act or not I wouldn't count it as such.

however if I am getting the time scale correct, this ended in March/April time, in which case if your work since this time was below par, they should have raised this with you before now, but it doesn't read that way and then under the equality act you may feel that you need other adjustment which is more perminant.

it is important to remember the adjustment has to been resonable for the employer as well, but as a lecturer I would imagine there is a lot of scope for you to have this adjustment, as the katie said if you had to do say 8 papers in 2 years they reduced this to 6 papers in 2 years, you can still be judged on this but in light of your adjustments not what everyone else does.

I am going to be a bit silly here but it is the best way to demonstate what I am trying to get at, a Skydiver suddenly developes a fear of hights, after treatment they still can't face hights,they also as part of their role do safety checks, equipment checking and the ground training, they can even stand on platform and teach correct landing technique, so the jumping from a plane which was say only 10 % of their time is removed as this is reasonable, but if 5 years down the line they wanted to take a promotion which would be as part of a display team which would require 60% jumping it might not be reasonable to make adjustment as the role is at hight.

I am not a HR expert so it sounds like you need to involve HR and your Union if you have one.

Good luck

I am really sorry but there doesn't seem to be a spell check on here?? am I missing something?

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