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Bonus entitlement linked to sick record is disability discrimination
In Land Registry v Houghton and others, the EAT has upheld a Tribunal decision that a bonus scheme, which excluded all employees with a formal warning for sickness absence during the financial year from receiving a bonus, was discrimination arising from disability under section 15 of the Equality Act 2010. This rule clearly amounted to unfavourable treatment as a consequence of a disability, since the exclusion was automatic, even for disability related absences. It was held that could not be justified because, among other things, the managers had no discretion under the scheme.
Five employees brought claims under the Equality Act when the employer said that they were ineligible for a bonus in 2012. All five qualified as disabled and had accrued sickness absence because of their disabilities. Although the Tribunal acknowledged that reasonable adjustments had been made to assist them in overcoming their disabilities and adjusting the usual trigger points where the sickness absence warning procedure was activated, the Tribunal considered it anomalous that a warning for misconduct could be ignored at the manager’s discretion for the purposes of the bonus, but not warnings in relation to sickness absence.
This legal update is provided for general information purposes only and should not be applied to specific circumstances without prior consultation with us.
For further details on any of the issues covered in this update please contact Gemma Ospedale, Partner in Employment on 020 7583 2222.
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