The claimant in The Home Office v Kuranchie spoke to her employer about her disability (dyslexia) and how she had to work long hours to enable her to get her work done. In response her manager said he would arrange for her to have specialist equipment at her desk. The claimant then emailed her manager requesting a flexible arrangement whereby she worked compressed hours – a 36-hour week over four, rather than five, days. She said that at this stage she believed that this was the only adjustment that would be required. The request was approved.
When she later brought a claim for disability discrimination the Tribunal found that the employer had a practice of giving the claimant the same volume of work as her colleagues. This placed her at a substantial disadvantage compared to her non-disabled colleagues because, in order to complete her work, and due to her disability, she had to work longer hours than they did. The employer should have made the reasonable adjustment of reducing her workload in order to remove this disadvantage.
In the EAT, the employer argued that the Tribunal should have taken a holistic approach to the question as to whether they had made reasonable adjustments, rather than just accepting that they should have made that particular adjustment. Neither the dyslexia report the claimant had shown to her employer, nor the claimant herself, had suggested a reduced workload.
The EAT rejected this. It was clear that the steps taken by the employer did not remove the disadvantage; so the critical question was whether the adjustment identified – reduced workload – was a reasonable adjustment. It didn’t matter that it had not been suggested by the claimant before the Tribunal hearing.
This case is a neat illustration of the heavy burden on employers in reasonable adjustment cases. It is not up to the employee to suggest adjustments – the duty to make reasonable adjustments falls on the employer. And in the tribunal, once the claimant or tribunal has suggested an adjustment that should have been made, the employer must prove that it was not reasonable.