Failure to make reasonable adjustments cost a bus company £29k

An employment tribunal has ruled that a bus driver with Crohn’s disease soiled himself while working because he had to work 11-hour shifts and was denied frequent access to breaks. His employer failed to make reasonable adjustments to the claimant’s shifts, despite an occupational health report recommending that the employee should have a predictable work pattern, should be given regular toilet breaks and should not work shifts of more than eight hours.  The report confirmed that a change in routine break could result in a flare-up of his condition and could result in the employee urgently requiring to go to the toilet. 

After years of working a regular pattern, a meeting was held in which the employee was advised of a need to amend his working pattern but also confirmed that he would be given notice of this and that support would be provided to him.  However, this was not followed through and the claimant was asked to work multiple shifts that were longer than the agreed eight hours, with some lasting up to 11 hours. The claimant asked for this pattern to be amended but this was declined as he was told it would not be fair to other drivers. 

He raised a grievance which took nearly a month to be managed. The grievance was upheld but the pattern was not immediately amended and this resulted in the claimant having difficulties with long shifts, and on more than one occasion, he soiled himself. 

At the employment tribunal the claimant discussed his humiliation and expressed his exasperation at having to continually request a regular working pattern. The judge found that the claimant had a “chronic and unpleasant condition that took a considerable amount of effort to manage” and remarked on the impact this had on his mental wellbeing.

As discussed in our last article, employers have a duty to make reasonable adjustments to prevent an individual with a disability from being placed at a disadvantage and failure to do this is likely to increase employment tribunal compensation. 121 HR Solutions urges employers who need to make reasonable adjustments for employees, to contact us for advice, on 0800 9995 121.

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