‘Disability’ is the reduction or loss of an ability to perform an activity.
It is a practical description of functional effects many medical conditions can cause. However, simply having ‘a condition’ or ‘a diagnosis’, does not necessarily mean someone is disabled.
For those who have a disability, and hence have problems performing certain activities, this can mean problems with standing or sitting for too long, or problems walking or ‘getting about’, difficulty with lifting weights or manipulating things with their hands e.g. a keyboard or tools. It could also be a problem with concentrating on a task or difficulty communicating e.g. speech or hearing or vision.
We as occupational health clinicians have an excellent working knowledge of the relevant disability discrimination legislation – Disability Discrimination Act 2005 (NI), Equality Act (GB) and Employment Equality Act (IRE). With this in mind, we will give you advice about possible adjustments or accommodations that might be needed to accommodate your disabled employee in the workplace.
We can also give you guidance on whether an individual’s disability is likely to fall within the ‘legal’ definition of disability, giving you some idea whether you are likely to be meeting your legal responsibilities or not. (Ultimately, of course, in the UK it is only a relevant legal body which decides this for sure).
We can do this not by disclosing confidential medical details in our report, but by describing what functional difficulties your employee is experiencing and how the job or workplace might be adjusted to overcome these difficulties. Hence, maintaining a valuable member of your workforce in work, when possible.
We work closely with relevant agencies such as RNIB and RNID, as well as the local disablement employment advisors, vocational rehabilitation centres and other relevant bodies as needed in your area.