DISABILITY AND YOU - WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW
What is a disability? It is an easy question to answer isn't
it. After all everybody knows that the answer is anyone who
is a wheelchair user, who has lost a limb, is blind or is
deaf. However, is it really that easy? What about someone
with diabetes, dyslexia, work-related stress or obstructive
The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA) and subsequent
amendments defines a disability as "a physical or mental impairment,
which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on their
ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities".
Long term is usually defined as capable of lasting for 12
months or longer. If you meet this definition of a disability,
then you are automatically covered under the DDA and your
employer is legally bound by the duties imposed upon them
under the act and cannot discriminate against you on the grounds
of your disability.
One of the most important obligations placed upon an employer
is their duty to consider reasonable adjustments to your job
to ensure that you can continue in the job that you were employed
This must be done before any other action can be taken against
you. However, just what is meant by a reasonable adjustment?
This can be anything that helps the person to carry out their
normal duties and can be as simple as providing a chair with
proper back support for someone with a back problem to letting
someone with obstructive sleep apnoea come in a little later
in the mornings to providing hearing aid compatible telephones.
Of course, you are all saying that your employer will complain
about the cost, especially as budgets are being cut back in
the current climate.
Research carried out by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission
has shown that 70% (yes 70%) of all reasonable adjustments
cost nothing at all.
Help is also at hand via government agencies such as Job
Centre Plus and schemes such as Access to Work and Work Step.
These schemes can help to provide funding for workplace assessments
to be carried out by properly qualified people such as the
RNIB or RNID or to help pay for reasonable adjustments.
But this all sounds so complicated, I hear you cry! Where
can we get help and advice and find out what UNISON is doing
to help its disabled members.
Well, fear not readers help is at hand! The Scottish Disabled
Members Committee (SDMC) is a self organised group consisting
entirely of disabled members who campaign on behalf of our
disabled members to ensure that disability issues are given
a voice within UNISON.
SDMC members are represented on all of the various Scottish
committees as well as on the National Disabled Members Committee.
We also attend the National Disabled Members Conference and
National Delegate Conference as well as the STUC disabled
members forum to ensure that disabled members voices are heard
not just within our own union but within the wider trade union
movement as well.
We are a friendly bunch (honest!) and would be happy to help
any member or branch with any issues they may have concerning
For more information please contact the equalities officer,
Eileen Dinning at West Campbell Street. firstname.lastname@example.org