Landmark ruling provides clarity on pay to disabled employees on sick leave

Employers do not have a duty to pay full pay to disabled employees on long-term sick leave, a landmark Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has ruled.

The EAT found that HM Revenue & Customs did not breach the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) by offering Mrs K O’Hanlon six months’ standard full pay followed by six months half pay.

O’Hanlon, who was clinically depressed, claimed that the failure to pay her the full amount was either a failure to make reasonable adjustments to compensate for her disability, or unjustified disability-related discrimination.

But the EAT found that it would be “a very rare case indeed” where the duty to make reasonable adjustments meant paying an absent disabled employee more than an absent non-disabled employee.

The EAT found that paying a disabled employee on long-term sick leave more than a non-disabled worker would flout the DDA’s policy objective, to assist the integration of disabled people into the workplace.

This would actually provide a disincentive for disabled people to return to work, the tribunal said.

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