The claimant in G4S Cash Solutions (UK) Ltd v Powell had been an automated teller machine engineer for G4S Cash Solutions (UK) Ltd (GCSU) before developing a back problem, which made him unable to perform that physically demanding role. He had a “disability” as defined under the Equality Act, meaning that GCSU had a duty to make reasonable adjustments to his role. GCSU created a new “key runner” role which he was still able to perform. His salary was maintained at its previous level. He believed his contract had been varied by agreement on beginning the new role.

Later GCSU told him it was discontinuing the role and he would have the option to take on an alternative role from the GCSU vacancies list or be dismissed on medical grounds. However, GCSU then decided to keep the key runner role, but with a 10% decrease in salary, which was offered to the claimant. He refused, was dismissed and then brought a claim.

On appeal, the Employment Appeal Tribunal decided that although the claimant’s contract had not been varied at the time of his role change, his original salary was protected as a reasonable adjustment and pay protection should be treated by the employer like any other form of reasonable adjustment.

What Should Employers Do Next?

The need to make reasonable adjustments is often tricky to apply in practice. Factors likely to be considered relevant in determining whether an adjustment is “reasonable” include: how effective any particular step is in avoiding the disadvantage, how practical it is to implement, how much it costs, the size of the employer organisation and its resources, and how available additional financial support is. Tribunals have shown that they are prepared to be creative and extend the meaning of reasonableness to protect the level of salary. However, typically the employer will be in the best position to decide whether an adjustment would be reasonable, and the Tribunals are aware that some provision must be made for that. Employers should consider each case of reasonable adjustments on a case-by-case basis.