In the recent case of (Gallop v Newport City Council  EWCA Civ 1583) the Court of Appeal warns employers in relation to making reasonable adjustments for disabled employees
The Tribunal had to determine whether an employee was disabled person. The employee was absent from work due to stress related illness. The employee was referred to Occupational Health. Thereafter the employee was absent for extended periods. The Occupational Health advised the employer that the employee was not disabled. The employee returned to work and was subsequently dismissed. The employee alleged historical bullying and disability discrimination.
The Employment Tribunal upheld that the employer was entitled to rely on Occupational Health’s advice.
The employee appealed to the Court of Appeal against the tribunal’s decision. The Court held that in this case, the employer was wrong to have followed occupational health’s advice without considering it carefully. Occupational Health stated that the employee, who had been signed off work for depression caused by work-related stress, was not “covered” by the disability discrimination legislation.
This case confirms the need for the employer, when seeking advice from clinicians, not just ask generally whether the employee is disabled within the meaning of disability discrimination Act. But to ask practical questions specifically to the circumstances of the employee’s disability, this will provide assistance to the employer in coming to a conclusion as to whether the criteria for disability is satisfied.