Summary of the Disability Discrimination Act
The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) describes a person with a disability as “anyone with a physical or mental impairment, which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect upon their ability to carry out normal day to day activities”.
Definition of Terms:
- Physical impairment: includes weakening or adverse change of a part of the body caused through illness, by accident or from birth. For example, blindness, deafness, heart disease, the paralysis of a limb or severe disfigurement.
- Mental impairment: may include learning disabilities and includes all recognised mental illnesses.
- Substantial: does not have to be severe but is more than minor or trivial.
- Long-term adverse effect: a condition which has lasted – or is likely to last – more than 12 months.
- A normal day to day activity: this is defined as an activity involving one or more of the following:- mobility; manual dexterity; physical co-ordination; continence; ability to lift, carry or otherwise move everyday objects; speaking, hearing or seeing; memory recall or ability to concentrate, learn or understand; perception of the risk of physical danger.
Note that it does not include the ability to work because no particular form of work is “normal” for most people.
For people who have a disability, the Disability Discrimination Act makes it unlawful for them to be discriminated against in the areas of:
- Access to goods, facilities and services
- Management, buying or renting of land and property
In addition, the DDA as amended by the Special Educational needs and Disability Act 2001, makes it unlawful for providers of education and related services to discriminate against people with disabilities.
For more information and a copy of the Disability Discrimination Act, please see the links listed at the bottom on this page.
Employers’ Responsibilities Under the Disability Discrimination Act
Since October 2004, all employment – regardless of the size of the organisation – has come within the scope of the DDA, with the sole exception of the armed forces. All employers, except the armed forces, have duties under the DDA which makes it unlawful to discriminate against employees or job applicants on the grounds of disability.
Employers are legally responsible for ensuring that discrimination does not occur in the workplace. This includes the need to make reasonable adjustments for people with disabilities. It is unlawful to discriminate by treating employees with disabilities any less favourably for a reason related to their disability without justification. It is the duty of employers to make reasonable adjustments to premises for employees with disabilities.
Employers must not discriminate against any person with a disability when recruiting. This includes:
- In the job specification
- In the design and completion of the application forms
- In the selection process (including interview timing and location)
- In the assessment technique
- In the terms of employment offered
Doing the Work
Employers must not discriminate against any person with a disability appointed to a job. This includes:
- In terms and conditions of service
- In induction arrangements
- In opportunities for promotion, transfer, training or receiving any other benefit, or refusal of such opportunities
- In occupational pensions
Redundancy and Dismissal
Employers must not discriminate against any person with a disability when applying redundancy or dismissal procedures.
For more information and a copy of the Disability Discrimination Act see the Directgov website and the Office of Public Sector Information (note that this last site contains all available information on the DDA and so is very detailed).
A site which has a wealth of useful information and links regarding disability and employment, including the DDA, but which is far less detailed than the Office of Public Sector Information link above, is the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) which is the professional body for anyone involved in the management and development of people. You can find their information on employment and disability here.