The claimant in Makuchova v Guoman Hotel Management (UK) Ltd, a hotel supervisor, claimed that her employer had failed to make reasonable adjustments for her when she was off sick for nearly a year before her dismissal.
The employer was prepared to make adjustments to enable her to return to her previous role, including having a break of up to 15 minutes after one hour, not having to carry loads and allowing her a phased return over three weeks. But the claimant did not want to do this and instead made a number of unsuccessful applications for alternative employment in finance or sales elsewhere in the business. (There were a number of vacancies for receptionists but the claimant did not apply for them until the very end of her employment when she asked if she could have a receptionist post, but only at the hotel where she worked. There was no current vacancy there.)
The claimant attempted to rely on the landmark case of Archibald v Fife Council, in which the House of Lords held that the duty to make reasonable adjustments might require an employer to appoint a disabled employee to an alternative post, even if that employee is not the best candidate. But the EAT agreed with the tribunal that the situation was very different from Archibald: on the facts of that case, the employee was plainly unable to perform her previous job. By contrast, the tribunal in this case was entitled to take the view that the claimant would be fit to return to work in her previous job. The employer had offered reasonable adjustments to the claimant and was willing to give assurances that they would be adhered to. Despite this, the claimant had apparently refused even to contemplate a return to her previous role.
As for the claimant's preference for an alternative job as a finance assistant, she was not capable of taking up such a post unless provided with training, and the EAT agreed that there was no duty on the employer to provide training when there were other jobs available, including her own if adjusted, which she could have undertaken without training.
The EAT explained that the nature of the obligation is to do what is reasonable, not necessarily to accept what the claimant contends is reasonable.