When an employee is off sick or unable to carry out their current duties, and they are disabled within the definition of The Equality Act, then employers are obliged to make reasonable adjustments which may include seeking to find them an amended or alternative role.
This gets tricky when you have an alternative role, but the employee isn’t necessarily the best person for the job. Claire Rosney has recorded a short video which walks employers through the situation, or you can continue reading below.
Can you ask them to interview?
If the employee is disabled within the definition of The Equality Act, it could be a reasonable adjustment to redeploy them into an alternative role (even at a higher grade) without the need for a competitive interview.
This is true even if you know they aren’t the best person for the job. The Court of Appeal case of Archibald v Fife sets out this well-established principle.
However, just because there is a role available, doesn’t mean that it’s a suitable alternative. For example, if they need a specific qualification in order to carry out the role, and this couldn’t be achieved through minimal training, then it wouldn’t be a reasonable adjustment to offer that role.
If the employee could do the role with minimal training, the employer should help to provide the training and offer them the role. This could also involve giving disabled employees priority over other employees, such as those at risk of redundancy.
Remember, that if the adjusted or alternative role attracts a lower rate of pay it is not necessarily a required reasonable adjustment to maintain the previous level of pay. It is sensible to pay the level of pay that the new, alternative role would usually attract.
This blog is part of a series focussed on managing ill health. Check out the other frequently asked questions and the answers from our lawyers here.
The content provided in this blog is for illustration purposes only and does not of itself constitute legal advice. It is your responsibility to ensure that these blogs are used in the correct context. Where tailored legal advice or further guidance is required it should be sought from a member of the Vista team.