Those who have suffered from meningitis can be left with lifetime physical and mental difficulties which can have a profound effect on applying for jobs and ability to work. Myself and my colleagues Michael Brownlee and Hannah Bollard from our employment team were pleased to speak to a group of young people as part of the Meningitis Now Believe and Achieve programme on the subject of reasonable adjustments in the workplace.
The Equality Act 2010 is intended to create a level playing field both in the recruitment process and in the workplace. Michael explained how an employer, both at the point of recruitment and once in the workplace, has a duty to make reasonable adjustments to give the applicant/employee a fair opportunity.
Interesting questions were asked by the group of young people including whether it was discriminatory to make it a requirement of the job to have a driving licence. One young lady explained she is prevented from driving because of her post-meningitis difficulties and has experienced this barrier when looking for jobs.
Michael and Hannah explained that the onus is on the individual to inform the employer about the disability. An employer's duty only arises when they know or ought to have known the applicant/employee may be disadvantaged.
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) can affect many who have suffered from meningitis and what the reasonable adjustments would look like for those individuals. Michael explained these are sometimes known as hidden disabilities - reasonable adjustments can include shorter/flexible working hours and/or location. In addition, there was a discussion about harassment and victimisation and how the Equality Act 2010 serves to protect individuals.
It was inspirational and enlightening to hear from individuals about their own experiences applying for work and starting their careers after suffering from meningitis.
If you would value a discussion about meningitis in the workplace then please do get in touch.
The law is there to create a level playing field for you