In United First Partners Research v Carreras, the Court of Appeal agreed with the EAT that an expectation of working long hours can be a provision, criterion or practice (PCP) for the purposes of a reasonable adjustments claim under disability discrimination law (see the June 2016 edition of this Bulletin for details of the EAT decision in this case).
Mr Carreras worked for a brokerage firm as an analyst. After a bicycle accident he suffered various symptoms amounting to a disability and his working time fell from 12 hours a day to around 11 hours a day. His employer asked that he work longer hours. In February 2014, Mr Carreras objected to working late and was told that he could resign if he did not want to work the hours. He resigned and brought claims for constructive unfair dismissal and disability discrimination, including a failure to make reasonable adjustments. The Employment Tribunal found he was disabled for the purposes of the Equality Act but dismissed his reasonable adjustments claim on the basis that the claimant had not shown there to be a requirement to work long hours sufficient to be a PCP.
The EAT and Court of Appeal held that the term “required” had been interpreted too narrowly by the employment tribunal. The claim by Mr Carreras had been wrongly rejected by the tribunal on the basis that he was not “coerced” into working late but simply expected to work late. The Court of Appeal agreed with the EAT that an expectation to work late was sufficient to be a PCP.
Employers should be aware that a PCP need not be a written policy or provision. In some cases, unwritten rules and expectations which put a disabled employee at a substantial disadvantage when compared with a non-disabled employee will be sufficient to trigger the duty to make reasonable adjustments.