Disability Discrimination Act update

draft Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (Amendment) Regulations (DDA) have
been published by the Government and are intended to come into force on 1
October 2004. Sue Nickson, partner and national head of employment at law firm
Hammonds, outlines the main provisions of the draft amendments in relation to

Removal of the small business exemption for employers with fewer than 15

Change to the burden of proof. If an employee has established facts from which
discrimination could be inferred, it will be for the employer to prove to the
tribunal that it did not discriminate unlawfully

Express prohibition on harassment based on disability

Clarification that less favourable treatment is not justifiable where the
reason for that treatment is based merely on the fact that the person has a
disability rather than on a consideration of the individual’s abilities

Extension of protection in certain circumstances beyond the end of the employment
relationship from acts of discrimination (including harassment) arising out of
that previous relationship

Removal of the justification defence in respect of a failure to make reasonable

Extension of protection to certain categories of employment including
fire-fighters, prison officers, the police, those employed on ships, hovercraft
or planes

Extension of protection to cover other categories of relationship including
partnerships, barristers and pupils, advocates, qualifications bodies and those
carrying out practical work experience

changes will also come into force under Part III of the DDA, which relates to
service providers. From 1 October 2004, service providers will be required to
make reasonable adjustments to the physical features of service premises to
overcome physical barriers to access. Failure to make such reasonable
adjustments without justification will be unlawful discrimination.

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