Brain Food: Workplace Rights - Disability Obligations

There are estimated to be about 8.7 million people with disabilities in the UK, representing 15% of the population. Next month, their rights under the 1995 Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) will be boosted in various ways, placing new obligations on organisations in their capacity as both employers and suppliers of goods or services. Most significant will be a requirement for service providers to make permanent adjustments to their premises if physical features prevent access or make it difficult for disabled customers. Prudent organisations will have carried out an access audit, assessing the needs of people with all types of disabilities. The duty to make 'reasonable adjustments' will be familiar to many businesses, as it has applied to disabled workers for nearly eight years. The employment provisions of the DDA are also getting an overhaul on 1 October to bring them into line with EU equality laws. This will enhance protection for staff with physical or mental disabilities - although most of the changes are technical and probably of most interest to employment law geeks. Further incentive, though, for a comprehensive review of policy and practice towards disabled people. How well adjusted is your organisation? Michael Burd and James Davies, Lewis Silkin solicitors, e-mail:

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

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