In G4S Cash Solutions (UK) Limited v Powell the EAT considered whether an employer can ever be required to maintain a disabled employee's former salary after transferring them to a more junior role by way of reasonable adjustment. Due to his disability, the Claimant was unable to continue working as an ATM engineer and began working in a less demanding role, initially on an unreduced salary. His employer decided to make the lesser role permanent, but at a lower rate of pay. When he refused to accept the 10% pay reduction, he was dismissed.
The EAT upheld the Tribunal’s finding that the Claimant should have continued to receive his higher salary on an indefinite basis as a reasonable adjustment, despite being employed in a lesser capacity. The EAT also found that an adjustment that is incompatible with the terms of the contract (such as one that involves a reduction in pay) cannot be made without the employee's agreement.
It is perhaps surprising that pay protection can be a reasonable adjustment given that previous case law has repeatedly stated that the purpose of disability discrimination legislation is to enable disabled employees to play as full a part as possible in the world of work, but not to treat them as objects of charity. However, the EAT emphasised that it would not be an everyday event for employers to provide long-term pay protection in such situations. It was relevant in this case that G4S had been paying the higher rate of salary for a year and the Claimant had been led to believe the arrangement was permanent. The EAT also took the view that G4S was well-resourced and could easily afford the additional cost.