Employers are under duty to make reasonable adjustments to help
disabled job applicants and employees in certain circumstances.
This duty applies where a "provision, criterion or
practice" applied by or on behalf an employer puts a disabled
employee at a substantial disadvantage when compared to employees
who are not disabled. In G4S Cash Solutions (UK) Ltd v Powell
UKEAT/0243/15/RN, the EAT considered whether protecting an
employee's pay comes within the scope of a reasonable
Mr Powell (the Claimant) was employed by G4S Cash Solutions (UK)
Ltd (G4S) as an engineer to maintain cash machines. He developed
problems with his back and became unfit for his usual jobs, which
required heavy lifting and working in confined spaces. It was
accepted the Claimant's back problem amounted to a
Following a period of sickness absence the Claimant took on a
support role which had reduced physical demands. However, he
preserved the same rate of pay as his original role as an engineer.
After 12 months in this post, G4S tried to reduce the
Claimant's salary to a more appropriate rate for the support
role he was undertaking as it did not require the engineering
skills associated with the higher rate of pay. The Claimant refused
to accept this discount and was dismissed.
The Claimant asserted that G4S should have allowed him to remain
in his support role and continue to receive his higher
engineer's rate of pay. He claimed that by failing to do so,
G4S was in breach of its duty to make reasonable adjustments.
The EAT found that whilst pay protection is not automatically a
reasonable adjustment, there are certain circumstances where it can
be. The EAT concluded that this was a situation in which such an
adjustment would be reasonable and should apply. It based its
decision on the fact there was no sensible reason the duty to make
reasonable adjustments should exclude any requirement to protect an
employee's pay in conjunction with other measures to counter
the disadvantage suffered by that employee because of his
disability. Specifically, it highlighted that protecting an
employee's pay in these circumstances is no more than another
form of cost for an employer, equivalent to the cost of providing
extra training or support in other cases. Further, it identified
that additional cost to an employer will often be a feature of the
adjustment that an employer will be required to make for a disabled
employee in any case.
This case demonstrates that, whilst typically employers should
focus on the practical steps they can take to make reasonable
adjustments, there are times when it is appropriate to make a
direct financial adjustment to help keep a disabled employee in the
workplace. Though it is fact-specific, this judgment reiterates
that the key question for employers in cases such as this remains,
"what is reasonable in the circumstances?" considering
the adjustment contemplated and the resources available to the
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