A legal loophole allowing employers to discriminate against people with
conditions such as cancer and multiple sclerosis must be closed immediately,
according to the Disability Rights Commission (DRC).
The DRC is calling on the Government to urgently introduce legislation to
cover people with progressive conditions to ensure they are protected against
discrimination from the point at which they are diagnosed.
The Government is due to publish new disability rights legislation in the
summer, but has not indicated when its draft Bill would become law – or what
further protection it would provide to disabled people.
Currently the Disability Discrimination Act only provides protection when
symptoms develop which make it difficult for someone to carry out daily
Bert Massie, chairman of the DRC, said since the organisation’s creation
three years ago, there have been 2,000 situations where disabled people have
been sacked from work or refused access to services because they are not
protected by the law.
These include the case of a man with a predisposition to Huntington’s
disease – but no symptoms – who was sacked because his employer feared that one
day he might contract the disease.
Massie said: "The Government has signalled its willingness to introduce
greater protection for disabled people, but there is no timetable for action.
"It is vital that some of these changes – such as bringing people with
MS or cancer within the protection of the law – are introduced this year."
By Ben Willmott