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ADMIN-EO  March 2012

ADMIN-EO March 2012

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Subject:

Re: Disability by Association and expenses?

From:

Pamela Graham <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

HE Administrators equal opportunities list <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Fri, 23 Mar 2012 13:08:49 +0000

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (58 lines)

Hi Rebecca and all who responded.
Helpful replies.
Pamela

________________________________
From: HE Administrators equal opportunities list [[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Rebecca Wormald [[log in to unmask]]
Sent: 23 March 2012 12:23
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Disability by Association and expenses?

Hi,

My view / interpretation below –

There is no ‘disability by association’.  The Equality Act refers to ‘discrimination by association’ ie where a person is treated less favourably because of their association with a disabled person.

A duty to make reasonable adjustments in the work context would only apply to a disabled employee.  There is no duty to make a ‘reasonable adjustment’ in relation to a carer for a disabled person.  You would, however, need to ensure you were not treating the person any less favourably on account of their association with a disabled person.  Eg if you would normally reimburse employees with caring responsibilities that would otherwise prevent their attendance at a conference eg normal childcare costs, then you should not treat this person any less favourably because they are caring for a disabled person. You are not required to make a ‘reasonable adjustment’ for an employee who is not himself disabled.

As you’re probably aware, the leading case on discrimination by association is Coleman v Attridge Law. In this case, the claimant (Coleman) was the main carer for her disabled child and was treated less favourably in respect of her request for flexible working than other colleagues who also had caring responsibilities and had been granted flexible working.  She was not asking for a ‘reasonable adjustment’ – she was just asking to be  treated no less favourably than other colleagues.  It was found that she had been discriminated against because of her association with her disabled child and the Equality Act was intended to address this type of discrimination.

You can always choose to make a payment in these circumstances but the Equality Act does not require you to do so.  You would also need to be mindful of any precedents created for other employees with caring responsibilities.

Rebecca Wormald
HR Partner – Employee Relations
People and Organisational Development

DE MONTFORT UNIVERSITY
T: +44 (0) 116 257 7364
M: +44 (0)758 415 9564
E: [log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>
W: dmu.ac.uk

From: HE Administrators equal opportunities list [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Pamela Graham
Sent: 22 March 2012 13:04
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Disability by Association and expenses?

Dear Equality colleagues

We have a member of our academic staff whose spouse has advanced MS and cannot be left unattended.  The result is that the academic cannot attend a conference unless the spouse is provided with respite care, at a cost of around £100 per day.  We are discussing whether it would be reasonable for that care to be reimbursed/paid for by the University as his employer. This would be on the grounds of it being  a reasonable adjustment for someone who is experiencing disability by association.

We have asked  HMRC who said that “the costs are not covered by an HMRC income tax exemption nor can we claim that they are incurred in the performance of the duties of an employee’s employment”. So it would not go through the expenses system without tax free. I wonder if they have considered the implications of the Equality Act?

Does anyone have experience of this sort of query? Any suggestions?

Many thanks

Pamela
Pamela Graham
Equality and Diversity Adviser (Wednesday, Thursday, Friday)
+44(0)191 222 5974
www.ncl.ac.uk/hr/<http://www.ncl.ac.uk/hr/>

Newcastle University
King's Gate
Newcastle upon Tyne
NE1 7RU

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