Disability discrimination and employment law
If you are a job applicant or employee with a disability, you have all of the legal employment rights and protections of any other employee or job seeker. These however are augmented by the provisions of the 1995 Disability Discrimination Act (DDA), which has since become part of the Equality Act 2010.
Provisions of the DDA
The DDA dictates that employers cannot discriminate against job applicants or company employees because of a disability. Specifically, they cannot discriminate on grounds of disability when it comes to recruiting, implementing terms and conditions including pay, promoting, disciplining, managing, or dismissing a member of staff or applicant.
The act also outlaws workplace harassment or bullying of an applicant or member of staff based on their disability. This includes any unwanted behaviour which ridicules, belittles, intimidates or humiliates a disabled person by referencing their disability. It also includes any negatively expressed comment about disability more generally.
Another provision of the act is that employers have a responsibility to make ‘reasonable adjustment’ to workplace premises to accommodate the needs of an employee or applicant with a disability. Reasonable adjustment applies where the person with a disability is either currently at a disadvantage compared to their non-disabled peers and the employee could be reasonably expected to be affected by that fact.
What reasonable adjustment covers
In consultation with you, your employer or interviewer can reasonably be asked to make such adjustments as sharing your workload, adding flexibility to your hours, providing a reader or interpreter or making instruction manuals more accessible. They can also be asked to adapt the work premises, for example adding ramps or lifts for access and adapting equipment you use to make it more disability friendly.
What constitutes a reasonable adjustment is not always a simple decision. An important consideration in any dispute is whether the proposed adjustment will help the person with the disability either stay at work or return to work. Sometimes it is useful to bring in an external consultant with disability expertise to help determine the efficacy of any change, for example an occupational health advisor.
During any discussion, there will always be a weighing of advantages against disadvantages. It is important to consider how effective any adjustment will be in ameliorating any disadvantage you are currently experiencing. The degree of advantage then needs to be weighed against potential disruption it might cause, and the cost implications for the viability of the business.
Advice on potential adjustments and assistance in gaining financial assistance for these can be found by contacting the Access to Work programme.
Disability discrimination and mediation
One of the most effective ways of resolving disability disputes in the workplace is through disability mediation. Mediation has the advantage over more traditional litigation in that it brings the disputing parties into direct contact and allows each party to present their point of view to the other. This often helps parties to reach a constructive resolution of their dispute that mends fences and allows them to build a positive working relationship moving forward.
Education and health care plan
Often known as an EHC or EHC plan, this document replaces the Statements of SEN and Learning Difficulties Assessments for children and young people with special educational needs.
EHC needs assessments
It begins with an assessment of the child or young person’s needs. A local authority (LA) has a responsibility to assess for education, health and care requirements where special needs are indicated. (SEN or special educational needs). The individual may need extra provision, under the Children and Families Act 2014, replacing the defunct statutory assessment under the Education Act 1996.
Request for an EHC assessment
The LA is required to respond to a request for an EHC assessment from a parent, young person, school or college within 6 weeks, stating their intention.
In the case of declining the request, there is a right to appeal against the refusal to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal.
Granting of an EHC agreement
However, if an agreement to conduct an assessment is granted, the LA is bound by law to first obtain a minimum level of advice and information from various professionals. An agreement to process further with the issue of an EHC plan is then based upon the evidence they gather about the individual concerned.
An EHC needs assessment is the only route available in order to be granted an EHC plan by the LA. Once the issue of a plan has been agreed by the LA, a draft is sent to the parents or young person to consider.
Choice of educational institution
At this stage of the process, the individual or parents will have the chance to name their choice of a particular school or college, which can include a mainstream or special school.
The local authority will communicate with the desired school or college, informing them of the request.
Draft EHC plan inclusions
In addition to the special educational needs and provision for the recipient the draft plan should also inform on the following:
• The provision of healthcare that has been assessed as required.
• Provision of social care made for the individual under the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970, together with any other agreed assessment of social care provision.
Final EHC plan
The final EHC plan will then be drawn up by the LA who will be legally obliged to ensure that the provision requested in the plan is delivered. Furthermore the local health care provider will have a legal obligation to ensure that the health care provision in the plan is delivered.
For more detailed information on EHC please consult your local authority.
Access to work (ATW)
If you have a disability, health or mental health condition, Access to Work is a government scheme which provides a grant to pay for practical support to overcome work related barriers due to disability. The programme is delivered by Jobcentre Plus.
The grant will cover costs relating to:
- Beginning work
- Staying in work
- Moving into self-employment
- Starting a business.
Do you have to pay back the grant?
The grant is not given as a loan and therefore does not have to be paid back.
Is there a financial assessment?
You do not have to undergo financial assessment, although in the case of self-employed people, you will need to disclose tax returns or produce a viable business plan. The grant does not affect any other benefits you are claiming.
Access to Work can help with the cost to an employer of providing practical support for someone to begin or to remain in a job, or be self-employed. You will need to be currently in paid employment or earning an income with self-employment. If you are considering starting up a business, you will be asked to submit a business plan, outlining details of viability in order to start on the scheme.
The amount of the grant eligible to you is dependent on your needs for the funding. However, if you are in receipt of certain benefits such as income support, ESA, severe disablement allowance and others, depending on your earning level, you may not qualify.
The minimum age is 16 and the grant will not apply to voluntary work or help with start-up costs. It is purely to overcome work related barriers due to a disability or health condition, which must be likely to last for 12 months or longer.
Access to work will pay up to 100% of the approved costs for:
- The cost of special computer equipment
- Adaptations to existing equipment
- Travel costs if you cannot use public transport
- Disability awareness training for colleagues
- Communication at a job interview
- Support service for absence due to a mental health condition
- A support worker or job coach to help in your workplace.
If you change your job, you may be able to get help to transfer equipment to a new job and transfer of a support worker.
You will need to meet with an independent assessor who will conduct an assessment of your needs and this is usually done at your workplace.
You can apply for an ATW grant online: www.gov.uk/access-to-work/apply
Or contact them direct at:
Access to Work
Telephone: 0345 268 8489
Textphone: 0345 608 8753
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm
Operational Support Unit
Harrow Jobcentre Plus
Mail Handling Site A
For further information about disability at work, including mentoring, advocacy and coaching, please phone or email email@example.com 01905 21717.
The Equality Act 2010
This Act, which came into force on October 1st 2010, is designed to give legal protection from discrimination for people both in the workplace and in society in general. It describes the various ways in which it is against the law to treat someone.
This one single Act replaces previous anti-discrimination laws, by amalgamating 116 separate pieces of legislation, thereby facilitating the understanding of the various areas relating to equality.
It sets out details of the legal protection offered when experiencing discrimination; you can also find out what action to take if you feel you have been unfairly treated due to discrimination. The areas covered by the Act are separated into 9 specific headings:
The 9 protected characteristics covered by the Equality Act 2010
3. Gender reassignment
4. Marriage and civil partnership
5. Pregnancy and maternity
7. Religion or belief
9. Sexual orientation
The aim of the Act is to provide a legal framework which protects the rights of individuals, whilst at the same time promoting a fair, and more equal, society.
Aside from the wider community, the main groups of people who need to be aware of the Act and the implications of anti-discrimination laws are:
If you are an employer you will need to comply with the law by implementing good practice in all aspects associated with employing staff. These will include: recruitment, pay, working hours, managing staff and developing company policies.
As an employee, knowledge of the Act will help you understand your rights to be treated equally in employment. This will include: applying for jobs, promotion, flexible working, reasonable adjustments, equal pay, and retirement.
If you own a business offering a service to people, in order to comply with the Equality Act 2010 you will need to demonstrate good practice when providing your services. This applies to all types of business, associations or organisations.
As a customer or client of a business or organisation, under the Act you have a right to be treated equally. This means being served or treated without discrimination when purchasing goods or accessing a service. The Act safeguards you against harassment and rights to accessibility of goods or a service.
As a provider of education, whether in further or higher education, college or school, you will need to comply with the Act. This includes promoting equality amongst students without discrimination, which improves attainment levels and progression for all pupils.
In England, equality and diversity are specific elements which are an integral part of Ofsted inspections.
As a student, you have equality rights in further or higher education, as set out in the Act. The institutions providing education have a legal obligation not to discriminate against you, harass or victimise you.
NB> the Act does not apply to Northern Ireland.
For more information about The Equality Act 2010 please visit: www.gov.uk/guidance/equality-act-2010-guidance
What is The European Mentoring Coaching Council (EMCC)?
What EMCC is about
The European Mentoring Coaching Council (EMCC) is a non-profit making, independent organisation which promotes coach and mentor excellence across Europe. Its UK arm currently has a membership of approximately 1,500 coaches and mentors across all UK coaching organisations, institutions and private training companies.
A little history
Founded in 1989, the aim of the council was to create a common, Europe-wide code of conduct and business practice for the then formative professions of coaching and mentoring. The original founders were all either coaches or mentors, or involved in the training of coaches and mentors; they wanted to create a shared framework of ethical standards which would guide the profession and those studying within it, promoting universally recognised training and qualifications.
Initially founded by practitioners from just a few European states, the organisation has expanded its remit to the point that it is now pan-European, with members in more than twenty European countries. The UK arm of the organisation was founded in 2004.
Code of ethics
The EMCC Code of Ethics is available for download through the organisation’s website. It covers in detail important coaching and mentoring issues such as integrity, confidentiality, cultural sensitivity, legal and statutory obligations and duties, with on going professional development.
The European Mentoring Coaching Council offers the European Individual Accreditation (EIA) award for practising UK counsellors and coaches. The EIA is awarded at four levels: foundation, practitioner, senior practitioner and master practitioner. It is renewed every five years through re-assessment. If you are a coach or mentor, a provider of coaching or mentoring services, or are simply thinking of developing a career within coaching and mentoring, then this is a benchmark qualification to pursue.
The EMCC’s four pillars
Support and supervision
The EMCC aims to effectively support its members and develop their professional knowledge by listening to and understanding their concerns and professional challenges; they also provide the training and support which can fully develop their potential. The organisation encourages interaction through open forums, and supervisor feedback, which enable it to constantly refine its services.
The ethos of the EMCC is to work inclusively with all members, encouraging the sharing of expertise and good practice as a means of developing the profession. The open forum allows for complete transparency and is a conduit for professional collaboration and networking.
The EMCC looks to build on its leading role in developing coaching and mentoring services within Europe, evolving professional practice with innovative approaches and pan-European partnerships.
The EMCC Code of Ethics, Competency Framework, and European-wide qualifications work with the single aim of raising professional standards within coaching and mentoring provision.
For more information about EMCC, you can make contact through their website www.emccuk.org, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call member services on 0845 123 3720.
Contact: For more information about our coaching and mentoring services in Hereford or Worcester, email or call Centre for Resolution email@example.com 01905 21717. Sessions can take place face to face, via the telephone or Skype.
About The Family Mediation Council
a guide by Centre for Resolution in Worcester
As a local firm, specialising in family mediation services in Bromsgrove, Redditch and across the county towns of Worcester and Hereford, we offer you this free guide about the Family Mediation Council:
The Family Mediation Council (FMC) is an umbrella organisation which oversees family mediation services in the UK. It is made up of six autonomous members, The College of Mediators, The Law Society, The Family Mediators’ Association, National Family Mediation, Resolution and IDR Europe Ltd, who work together in one unified body.
As a unified body, the council represents and informs the views of its professional members and practitioners, promotes the practice of family mediation in the UK, and employs its status to make relevant representations to government and other national interests.
Aims of the Family Mediation Council
The organisation aims to ensure best practice in family mediation across the UK, and to standardise professional practice; this ensures members of the public who access family mediation services can do so in the knowledge that they will receive mediation from qualified practitioners who meet the professional standards of the organisation.
The Family Mediation Council also aims to promote, develop and provide professional training, develop and promote research, whilst providing advice and information on all areas of family mediation.
Code of practice
As part of the Family Mediation Council’s commitment to ensuring high standards of family mediation, it has developed a Code of Practice for all its registered members. This Code of Practice, was most recently updated in 2016, and can be found at www.familymediationcouncil.org.uk. The Family Mediation Council also provides guidance for online video mediation, which can also be accessed through their website.
All mediation practitioners registered with The Family Mediation Council are obliged to subscribe to this code of practice. The code details a set of aims and objectives for mediation, incorporating levels of expected professional conduct, qualifications and training that mediators must undertake; it also includes the scope and general principles of family mediation, covering issues such as neutrality, impartiality and the welfare of children.
The Family Mediation Council demands all its registered mediators have completed recognised foundation training courses in mediation which develop the professional skills and practice to reflect upon and enter into the level of critical analysis and issue awareness required of every professional mediator. Training courses are led by a Professional Practice Consultant (PPC), and all practitioners will have their own Supervisor.
Professional development and supervision
Whilst initial professional training is vital to administering effective family mediation, so is a continuing professional development which reinforces, further develops and continues to update mediation skills and practice. All practitioners registered with The Family Mediation Council undertake continuous professional development accredited by the organisation. Practitioners are also encouraged to undertake specialist training where it is felt this is required, for example if they are interested in developing a particular specialism within family mediation.
For more information about the Family Mediation Council, go to their website at www.familymediationcouncil.org.uk, or alternatively call on 0844 556 7215, or from a mobile 01920 443 834.
The Ministry of Justice
The Ministry of Justice, one of the government’s largest departments, has a staff of approximately 70,000 and an annual budget of £9 billion. Millions of UK citizens, including those employing mediation services in Herefordshire, Worcestershire and surrounding areas, use its facilities every year. It is responsible for more than five hundred courts and tribunals, over a hundred prisons, and its work is closely linked to mediation in Redditch, Bromsgrove and across England and Wales.
Its prime duty is to protect the public by reducing rates of criminal recidivism, or reoffending. The Ministry is also responsible for ensuring the transparency of the criminal justice system as a whole, both for victims and for the larger public, which in turn connects it to national mediator services. The Ministry is responsible for courts, prisons, probation services and attendance centres. It also works in conjunction with other government agencies, mentioned above, to reform and improve the criminal justice system and to protect the human rights of citizens through drafting of new legislation.
The key stated priority of the Ministry of Justice is the improvement of public safety and reduction of reoffending through reform of prisons, probation services and youth justice services. The Ministry also has a focus of building a ‘One Nation’ justice system, with justice accessible to all, whatever their background. It has responsibility for upholding the rule of law, defending and supporting an independent judiciary, and protecting individual liberties.
Within its jurisdiction for England and Wales, the Ministry ensures all suspected offenders, including juveniles, are treated fairly from arrest to potential conviction and throughout any sentence. It is responsible for prison and rehabilitation services, including probation and parole services, the family justice system, victim support and criminal injuries compensation.
The majority of the Ministry of Justice’s work takes place in these two countries only, as it has no responsibility for criminal justice policy either in Scotland or Northern Ireland. This was not always the case. Prior to 2010, the ministry conducted relations between the UK government and the three devolved nations of Northern Ireland and Scotland. After 2010, this responsibility was transferred to the Cabinet Office. The Ministry of Justice does still, however, assume responsibility for communications between Crown dependencies such as Jersey, the Isle of Mann and Guernsey, entering into discussion with these islands regarding potential implementation of UK legislation.
The Ministry works closely across government agencies, with particular links to The Courts and Tribunals Service, The Prison Service, The Legal Aid Agency, The National Offender Management Service, The Probation Service and The Youth Justice Board.
The Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS)
What it is
CAFCASS was set up to be the voice of children in the family courts, and it places child welfare at the centre of all court proceedings. Not all family disputes will be overseen by CAFCASS as many families choose to resolve custody issues through family mediation services, but it does offer an important service, accountable to the Ministry of Justice but independent of the courts and the health and education authorities.
What CAFCASS does
It works with families and children where there have been applications to the court regarding custody following parental separation.
It also works with children where applications have been made by local authorities relating to concerns over potential child endangerment.
The role of a CAFCASS advisor
The CAFCASS Family Court Advisor works impartially with separating families to help them agree on the best care for their children. If no agreement is forthcoming, then it is their responsibility to advise the court on appropriate next steps. All advisors use their professional judgement to advise on the best and safest outcome for children. To decide this they will collect evidence and perform safeguarding enquiries, which will involve checks with local and police authorities, and in depth interviews with parents.
CAFCASS court reports
Sometimes CAFCASS advisors are asked to put together a more complete report for the court, and are given a broader remit for producing this. They incorporate into the report the findings of their local and police authority research, their conversations with parents or guardians, and separate interviews with the children concerned and other relevant adults. All of this information is incorporated into a formal court report. The focus of the report is a determination by the advisor as to what represents the best interests of the child, and a clear depiction of the child’s wishes.
Influence of the report
The importance of the report compiled by the CAFCASS advisor cannot be underestimated. In what is otherwise an adversarial system, it represents the only source of independent testimony, and as such is considered to be fair and objective. A judge who goes against the recommendations of the CAFCASS report will need to justify their reasons for doing so.
Social services interventions
In public law cases, where social services have raised concerns about a child, or have contested adoptions, CAFCASS advisors represent the rights and interests of the child, and have the power to appoint a legal representative on their behalf. In these situations they write a report for the court similar to the formal report sometimes required for private custody cases. Again, the report is evidence-based, takes into account the wishes of the child, and reaches a conclusion about what the advisor feels is the best outcome for the child.
Beyond the courtroom
CAFCASS also has a responsibility for organising supervised contact between a child and parent where the court has felt that unsupervised contact might represent a potential threat to the safety of that child. Their website is also a useful source of information and advice for children experiencing family breakdown.
For more information about CAFCASS and the family support services they offer, or to find out more about family mediation services, contact us.