As part of our involvement in Erb’s Palsy Awareness Week, Head of Employment Yunus Lunat looks at the issue of reasonable adjustments in the workplace, something that Erb’s sufferers (and indeed employers) may wish to be aware of.

The relevant law: The Equality Act 2010

The Act imposes a positive duty upon employers to help staff overcome disadvantages they face at work as a result of a disability. This is referred to as making ‘reasonable adjustments.’

Essentially, the employer should be doing what it can to ensure that the staff member can perform their role as safely and easily as anyone else at the firm.

What is meant by ‘reasonable adjustments’?

This is not precisely defined in the Act, and will vary according to the situation.

Generally it will depend on a number of factors, including (but not limited to):

  • The employer’s size and the amount of resources available to it;
  • How practicable it would be to implement the adjustment.

How might an employer assist a staff member who suffers from Erb’s Palsy?

A starting point should certainly be a thorough workplace assessment, helping to ensure that the workspace itself is organised as effectively as possible. A need for specific equipment may be identified via such an assessment. Time off for therapeutic input such as physiotherapy should also be accommodated where possible (the level of which must be ‘reasonable’).

What happens if an employer fails to do this?

This can give rise to a disability discrimination claim under the Equality Act 2010, on the basis that the employer failed in its duty to make reasonable adjustments. It is important to remember that the scenario may well also give rise to the employee arguing that they have suffered from direct discrimination (on the basis that they have been treated less favourably because of their disability) and indirect discrimination (where a rule, practice or policy places them at a disadvantage).

The Employment Tribunal can award unlimited damages for a discrimination claim. This emphasises the obligation of the employer to accommodate for those who may need added assistance in the workplace.

If you have any questions about any of the points raised in this article, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with Yunus on 0113 284 5023 or at

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