The EAT has clarified that, where an activity is something that is only done at work, it can still be a "normal day-to-day activity" for the purposes of the Disability Discrimination Act if it is common to different types of employment (Chief Constable of Dumfries and Galloway Constabulary v Adams).

Mr Adams, a police constable, suffered from ME and had mobility problems between 2am and 4am, when working on night shift. When his condition worsened, he walked more slowly, had difficulty climbing stairs and at times could not drive himself home or undress at the end of his shift. When he worked only day shifts he was free of symptoms, but the symptoms returned when he was put back onto rotating shifts.

The EAT confirmed that where skills are particular and unique to certain groups and occupations, such as the skills required of a silversmith or watchmaker or driving a bus, they cannot amount to a "normal day-to-day activity". However, the activities in question came within the meaning of normal day-to-day activities and their character was not changed because they were performed at night. In the UK there are sufficient people who work on nightshifts for working at 2am to 4am to be a normal day-to-day activity within the meaning of the DDA. Mr Adams was therefore disabled for the purposes of the DDA and could proceed with his claim of disability discrimination.

Impact on employers

The fact that activities take place at work or that the work itself is done during a night shift is not sufficient of itself to take them outside the ambit of "normal day-to-day activities" for the purposes of the DDA. Therefore, the duty to make reasonable adjustments can be triggered by difficulties that an employee has. Reasonable adjustments might include, for example, altering hours of work or taking the employee off night shifts altogether.