Charlesworth -v- Dransfields Engineering Services Ltd UKEAT/0197/16 looked at whether a redundancy following disability-related sickness absence was discrimination arising from a disability and found that it was not: a mere link between sickness absence and a decision to make an employee redundant was not enough to satisfy the test in section 15 of the Equality Act 2010.

The EAT found that although the employee’s sickness absence related to cancer had enabled his employer to identify that his post could be removed, his illness was context and not the determining factor in making him redundant.

It is important to bear in mind that although sickness absence may enable a business to appreciate restructuring possibilities and cost-saving opportunities, great care needs to be taken when acting. This is an area of law which turns on very specific facts so advice must be sought to guide employers through whether a sickness absence is contextual or causative in order to avoid costly mistakes.