New research from Endometriosis UK reveals the shockingly low levels of public awareness for Endometriosis. Despite affecting 1 in 10 women from puberty to menopause – 1.5 million in the UK – the majority of people (54%) do not know what Endometriosis is.
What is Endometriosis?
Endometriosis UK describes the condition as a long-term condition which sees tissue similar to the lining of the womb grow in other parts of the body, generally on organs in the pelvic cavity such as the ovaries, fallopian tubes and bowel. It can be painful and may have a devastating impact on a woman’s education, personal and professional relationships, mental health, and quality of life.
Workplace Rights – what are they?
Under the Equality Act 2010 (the Act) a person is disabled if they:
Have a physical or mental impairment that has a ‘substantial’ and ‘long-term’ adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.
The definition set out in section 6 of the Act poses four essential questions:
- Does the person have a physical or mental impairment?
- Does that impairment have an adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities?
- Is that effect substantial?
- Is that effect long-term?
‘Substantial’ means more than minor or trivial and an impairment will have a long-term effect if:
- It has lasted at least 12 months;
- The period for which it lasts is likely to be 12 months; or
- It is likely to last for the rest of the life of the person affected (e.g., HIV, Cancer, or MS).
How does this relate to Endometriosis?
Endometriosis is not automatically classed as a Disability under the Act (currently only HIV, Cancer and MS are automatic disabilities). For all other conditions, the legal test needs to be satisfied in order for it to be classed as a disability.
For most women suffering from endometriosis, it is very debilitating and causes their everyday life to be affected. In this situation, it is possible to argue that they are disabled for the purposes the Act.
It is important to be aware that disability discrimination is prohibited and everyone is protected, not just employees (this includes job applicants, contract workers employment agencies and local authority members to name a few).
People with disabilities should not be treated less favourably than non-disabled persons. This may require businesses to make ‘reasonable adjustments’, examples include things like giving allowances for time off, providing light duties during episodes of pain and adjusting workloads. If a person is treated less favourably and/or an employer fails to put into place ‘reasonable adjustments’, individuals may be able to bring a disability discrimination claim.
In addition, people should not be treated unfavourably as a matter that arises in consequence of their disability. For example, if someone is disciplined for not being able to perform their duties due to poor concentration during episodes of pain, or disciplined and ultimately dismissed for absences which were a consequence of a disability, then, again, a claim for disability discrimination in an Employment Tribunal could be brought.
What should you do next?
As a business, you should consider whether you have the right policies and procedures in place. If you have got policies in place, are they up to date? Does everyone know where they are and can they access them? When was the last time you attended (or provided) training surrounding disability discrimination in the workplace? Do you carry out regular training with employees (at least every 12 months) and managers (which should, arguably, be more than once a year)?
Raising awareness within your workplace is vital.
Get in touch with us today to discuss how we can help you raise awareness, ensure you have the correct things in place and provide training within your workplace!
Email email@example.com , connect with us on LinkedIn and drop us a message – Peach Law (HR & Employment Law Specialists) or pick up the phone and give us a call – 0161 478 3800.
We’re here to help you and your business!