The Disability Rights Commission has called for further legislation to
ensure all disabled employees experience equality in the workplace.
The DRC’s first annual review calls for a new disability Act giving all
people with HIV and cancer – including those in remission – protection from
It also wants the law to be extended to cover all employers, instead of only
those with 15 or more staff – the criterion under the Disability Discrimination
DRC chairman Bert Massie said, "The current definition of disability is
too restrictive. We have found employees who have been victimised after being
diagnosed by cancer and HIV."
The DRC also wants anti-discrimination laws to apply to the Army, which is
currently exempt from future disability legislation.
Massie is pleased with the response from employers who made up 12 per cent
of the 65,000 calls to the DRC.
"Employers were a bit sceptical of us at first, but we have built up a
good relationship with them. We are not about rolling out our lawyers – if
employers are consulting us about complying with legislation, then that is good
enough for us.
"The Government is introducing new protection rights for the disabled
in 2004. But additional reform is needed which can only be brought about by a
new disability act to plug the loopholes."
By Paul Nelson