The issue

Employers must make reasonable adjustments for disabled employees. Here, the Court of Appeal considered whether an employer was obliged to make reasonable adjustments for a non-disabled employee who had caring responsibilities for her daughter, who had Down's syndrome.

The ruling

An employer is not under a duty to make reasonable adjustments for a non-disabled employee if s/he is associated with a disabled person. The duty to make reasonable adjustments is only triggered when the employee him/herself is disabled. 


This case confirms that employers are not required to make reasonable adjustments if an employee has caring responsibilities for a disabled family member. However, employers may decide to offer reasonable assistance to such employees, even if they are under no legal duty to do so, in order to preserve good employee relations. Employees in this position could also make a request to work flexibly and any such request will need to be handled appropriately.

Employers should also remember that employees are protected from direct discrimination and harassment because of their association with a disabled person (even when the employee is not disabled him/herself).

Hainsworth v. Ministry of Defence [2014] EWCA Civ 763. A link to the case is here.