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Managing performance issues for disabled employees

Over 11 million people in the UK have a limiting long- term illness, impairment or disability. Laura Chalkley from NPA business partner, Ellis Whittam, explores what to do if someone in the pharmacy team is affected.

Imagine you have noticed that one of your pharmacy’s long-serving employees has become very anxious and suffered from panic attacks. You have seen some signi cant changes in the way that they interact with their colleagues and customers the way they approach their work.

What do you do?

These types of issues should be dealt with through your pharmacy’s performance management procedure. If you do not currently have one in place, contact NPA Employment Law Advisory Service Team, who can provide one for you.

Since there seems to be a change in behaviour, it’s essential that before you start this procedure, you consider whether the performance issues are related to a medical condition which could amount to a disability and, if so, what reasonable adjustments can be made.

If you do commence your formal performance management procedure without investigating this further, you could face an Employment Tribunal claim.

Who is disabled?

Under the Equality Act, a worker will be considered disabled if they can show that they suffer from a long term physical or mental impairment which has a substantial effect on their ability to carry out day-to-day activities.

In this case, if the employee can show that the effect of their anxiety and panic attacks has lasted at least 12 months, is likely to last for at least 12 months, or is likely to last for the rest of their life and it has a signi cant adverse impact on the way they carry out daily tasks, they may meet this de nition.

What is a reasonable adjustment?

Employers must make reasonable adjustments for disabled employees when they are placed at a substantial disadvantage by:

• an employer’s provision, criterion or practice

or
• a physical feature of the employer’s premises

or
• an employer’s failure to provide an auxiliary aid.

In this case, if the employee has been off work for some time, you could allow a phased return to work. You could also look at their workload to see if that is affecting their anxiety and the occurrence of panic attacks.

If you have made all the reasonable adjustments and their performance still does not meet the required standards, you should initiate your performance management procedure, although care must be taken.

Performance management is complex, particularly when medical conditions adversely affect performance, therefore seek legal advice by contacting NPA Employment Law Advisory Service Team on 0330 123 0558 or employmentadvice@npa.co.uk.




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