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Reasonable Adjustments and Time Limits

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Thanks to Ed McFarlane of Deminos HR for preparing this case summary

If, having refused to make a reasonable adjustment for a disabled employee, an employer has a policy, which is not of itself discriminatory, to keep its refusal under review, does the tribunal time limit run from the refusal?

No, holds the EAT in Jobcentre Plus v Jamil, holding that the discriminatory act extended over a period, so the Claimant had brought her claim in time.

The disabled Claimant worked at a Job Centre and had been refused a reasonable adjustment of a transfer to another workplace closer to home. On the facts, if time ran from the decision to refuse a transfer, the claim would have been out of time, but not if the refusal was a continuing act or state of affairs.

The EAT rejected an assertion based on Cast v Croydon College, a Court of Appeal decision, that a continuing act required that the policy of the employer (the post-refusal review) itself had also to be discriminatory (which it was not), holding that the focus should be on the law as derived from statute.

In considering whether there is conduct extending over a period, the EAT cautioned against focusing on the word 'policy' and found reference to a 'continuing state of affairs' helpful in considering whether conduct extends over a period. Here, the continuing duty to make reasonable adjustments did so, it has to be fulfilled "on each day that it remains a duty"