What the law says employers must do
Your legal responsibilities to your employees with sight loss and applicants who are blind or partially sighted are laid out in The Equality Act 2010 which aims to eliminate discrimination and promote equality. We've provided an overview of The Act and how it applies to you as an employer.
The Equality Act 2010
The Equality Act clarifies what you need to do to make your workplace and services fair and comply with the law. The Act puts a duty on you as an employer to make reasonable adjustments for your staff to help them overcome any disadvantage resulting from their disability.
It does this in relation to what are called “protected characteristics”. Disability is one of the protected characteristics. Most blind and partially sighted people are likely to be considered “disabled” within the meaning of the Act.
The Act applies to employers of any size, and covers temporary, part time and permanent employees, and contract workers. It also covers applicants and potential applicants for employment. Volunteers are generally not covered by the Act.
Fairness in recruitment
The law states that an employer must not discriminate in the recruitment process which includes advertising, the application process, shortlisting and interview. This includes but is not limited to:
- producing application forms in accessible formats
- allowing the candidate more time for interview tests and the use of their adjustments
- being aware of questions you cannot ask the candidate in interview.
The law states that employers are required to make "reasonable adjustments" (changes) to the workplace. Many adjustments can reasonably be made at minimal cost and involve little inconvenience. Assistance with funding more costly adjustments is available by assessment through the government’s Access to Work scheme.
Some examples of reasonable adjustment include:
- providing specialist equipment (such as a video magnifier)
- providing specialist software (such as screen magnification or a screen reader)
- altering lighting levels around an employee’s workstation
- support with some duties
- funding transport costs to and from work
- providing information in an accessible format.
Terms of employment, benefits, and dismissal
The law states that it is unfair to dismiss someone on the grounds of disability, and that an employer must not discriminate:
- in the terms of the employment (such as salary)
- by not offering access to opportunities for promotion, transfer or training or receiving any other benefit
- by not following fair dismissal criteria and process.
Legalisation is different if you work in Northern Ireland. Please look at our separate guidance at:Disability Discrimination Act in Northern Ireland
For more information on any of the above please contact our Helpline on 0303 123 9999.
There are also specialist organisations that can help you understand or resolve more complex queries.
The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS)
ACAS aims to improve organisations and working life through better employment relations and can provide in-depth information about the Equality Act, reasonable adjustments and improving inclusion in the workplace.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC)
The EHRC provides comprehensive information on the Equality Act, including guidance for employers about how to comply with equality law and implement good practice in all aspects of employment including recruitment, pay, working hours, managing staff and developing policies.