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disabled person


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Under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, a person who has a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long term effect on his abilities to carry out day-to-day activities (although some conditions, including HIV and multiple sclerosis, qualify from the point of diagnosis). The Act makes it unlawful to discriminate against a person solely because he has a disability (e.g. refusing to employ someone who is qualified to do the job simply because he has cerebral palsy or because she is partially sighted). Where the discrimination results from a reason connected with the disability, the employer is allowed a defence of justification (e.g. where a wheelchair user is refused employment because the office is up a steep flight of stairs and there is no lift). The employer is, however, under a duty to make “reasonable adjustments” in relation to the disabled person. This might include alterations to premises (e.g. a stairlift) or to working conditions, such as hours of work or specially adapted equipment. The law applies to all employers, regardless of size. The EU Employment (Framework) Directive covers disabled employees and the 1995 Act has been amended as a consequence. The legislation is overseen by the Equality and Human Rights Commission as successor to the Disability Rights Commission.

Subjects: Law.


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