In the recent case of Carreras v United First Partners Research the Employment Appeal Tribunal has held that an expectation that a disabled employee would work late constituted a provision, criterion or practice (PCP) which triggered the duty to make reasonable adjustments.
Mr Carreras was employed by a brokerage firm as an analyst and worked long hours. He was involved in a serious road traffic accident, as a result of which he experienced dizziness, fatigue, headaches, trouble concentrating and had difficulty working in the evenings.
When Mr Carreras was well enough to return to work, he initially returned on reduced hours, however after a period of several months, his employer began asking him to work in the evenings. When Mr Carreras objected to working late because of his tiredness, one of the owners of the business responded that if he didn’t like it he could leave. Mr Carreras resigned. He brought claims of disability discrimination based on a failure to make reasonable adjustments (in respect of the practice of expecting employees to work late) and unfair dismissal.
The EAT upheld the claim. It took the view that a liberal approach should be adopted when determining what constitutes a PCP. The reality of the situation was that Mr Carreras felt obliged to work late. His employer had requested and then expected him to do so. This amounted to a PCP, which meant that the employer was required to make reasonable adjustments to this expectation for Mr Carreras.
Employers whose working practices regularly involve working long hours and/or working late should be vigilant when it comes to employees who have disabilities which might make this difficult for them. Employers should not put pressure on employees to work long hours or late in these circumstances and should consider actively discouraging them from doing so. However, it is not clear what the outcome would have been if the employer hadn’t explicitly asked Mr Carreras to work late and he had simply felt compelIed to do so because of the culture of the organisation.