Scope of Reasonable Adjustments

Scope of Reasonable Adjustments

Recently the Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) has been called upon to consider the scope of the duty to make reasonable adjustments. Specifically in Croft Vets v Butcher the EAT looked at whether it was outside the scope of"reasonable adjustments" to require an employer to fund medical treatment.
It was decided that this would not fall outside the scope of reasonable adjustments.
Whilst on sick leave as a result of work-related stress and severe depression the Claimant was referred to a consultant psychiatrist by her employer. The psychiatrist recommended that the Claimant see a clinical psychologist and attend six psychiatric sessions. The employer failed to act on any of the recommendations made by the psychiatrist and the Claimant resigned as a result claiming constructive unfair dismissal and a failure to make reasonable adjustments.
The Employment Tribunal held that the employer’s failure to arrange such treatments amounted to a failure to make reasonable adjustments and that as a result the Claimant had been constructively dismissed.
The employer appealed on this point; however the appeal was dismissed by the EAT. It held that the necessary adjustments were job-related as the payments were not for"private medical treatment in general but rather payment for a specific form of support to enable the Claimant to return to work and cope with the difficulties she had been experiencing at work".
In addition to this although the psychiatrist only gave the treatment a 50% chance of success he was of the opinion that it would certainly have led to a significant improvement in the Claimant’s depression. It was on this basis that the EAT decided that such adjustments were reasonable because they would have mitigated the effect of the provision criterion or practice (PCP) that had been applied and because of which the Claimant had suffered a disadvantage. In this case the PCP was that the employer required the Claimant to return to work to perform the essential functions of her job.
This is likely to be a case that is fact sensitive and the requirement for an employer to pay for medical treatment may be limited to necessary adjustments in similar circumstances to the above case.
If you are on sick leave and your employer has refused to make reasonable adjustments to help with your return you believe that you have been discriminated against for some other reason by your employer or you have been forced to resign as a result of your employer’s actions please contact our specialist employment team who will be happy to discuss your situation with you.
Written by Anthony Fox

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