In RBS v Ashton the disabled claimant complained that her employer had failed to make reasonable adjustments for her, by failing to extend the time that her sick pay was paid under the employer’s sickness absence policy. Evidence showed that both disabled and non-disabled persons were subject to the same policy and that this policy was, on occasion, relaxed when applied to disabled employees.
The EAT, overturning the Tribunal’s decision, indicated that that in its view, only in exceptional cases would the withholding of sick pay in accordance with a sickness absence policy amount to a failure to make reasonable adjustments.
This is a good decision for employers in that it confirms their ability (except in exceptional circumstances) to follow sick pay policies (where disabled and non disabled employees are treated in the same way). The area which does need to be approached with more caution is any sort of disciplinary process based on absence where there is an underlying disability.
It should be noted that this case was decided under the 1995 Act, which has now been superseded by the Equality Act 2010. However, the position regarding reasonable adjustments is the same under the 2010 Act.