Employers sometimes try to make employees leave or find another way to get rid of them. This is sometimes called being ‘managed out’.
As a disabled employee, you are entitled to support from your employer so that you can do your job. Your boss should consider this when discussing your performance. If they do not, this could be discrimination.
What to look for
Take some time to think about:
if you’ve done the work you’re expected to do
if your boss knows about how being disabled might affect the way you work
if you have been treated unfairly
if there are other reasons why things have changed such as your employer is cutting jobs
Signs that your manager wants you to leave could include:
no invitations to meetings or events
exclusion from decisions that affect you
lack of support, such as having requests for reasonable adjustments denied or delayed
more monitoring, such as a performance improvement plan
Talk with someone independent. This should be someone who will not always take your side. If other people are also affected, then it’s less likely that your employer is targeting you. Though less likely to be discrimination, it could still be bad employment practice.
Bullying, harassment, discrimination and constructive dismissal are illegal. If you think any of these have happened to you, get legal advice.
You may have a formal meeting with your manager, or they might try to talk with you in a more informal way.
Your manager might talk about your:
They might also talk about your probation period, disciplinary procedures or dismissal.
Your manager should give examples to back up their points. It could be discrimination if:
your manager can’t give any examples that are true
your manager does not consider the barriers you might face as a disabled employee
your manager sets you unrealistic targets
If you are talking with your employer, ask: “What outcome do you want from this conversation?” The answer could help you. If it does not make sense or seem fair, email your boss your questions and anything else that you're worried about.
Your employer’s policies
If your employer is talking to you about anything that could lead to your dismissal, they should be able to say which policy they are following.
Ask to see the policy. This will help you to work out what your employer should be doing and what you might need to do.
Some smaller employers may not have policies. Your employer should give you feedback, provide evidence and give you a chance to improve.
Keep your options open
Listen to what your employer says to you. Are there things you can do to improve the situation? If not, email to explain why you disagree. Include any other relevant facts. For example:
Have they asked you to take on extra work?
Have other team members been off sick?
Show that you want to do your job
Trying to find a solution that works for you and your employer will give you the best chance of keeping your job.
If you can prove that you were trying to be reasonable, you will have a stronger case at an employment tribunal. Keep hard copies of relevant emails and make notes of any meetings.
Talking about your condition, your rights and reasonable adjustments
If your employer knows that you’re disabled, they should make reasonable adjustments. There is no set definition of what is ‘reasonable’ – it depends on the employee, the job and the employer. This can include doing different duties as well as flexible and part-time working.
Employers must consider your request for adjustments and respond in a reasonable time. If you are at risk because they do not, this could be discrimination.
In some organisations, for example, being off sick for a certain number of days can lead to a disciplinary. If you were off sick because you’re disabled, changing how the sick leave policy applies to you could be a reasonable adjustment.
Preparing to talk to your employer about reasonable adjustments
Start by asking for advice from your doctor or another appropriate professional on what would help. Think about what adjustments could work for both you and the business. If you don’t know what you need, you can ask for an assessment. Access to Work can pay for adjustments and assessments.
When you’re ready, talk with HR and be as open as you feel you can be.
If parts of your job are more difficult for you because of your impairment, your manager must consider adjustments if they know you are disabled. If they just treat it as a ‘capacity’ or ‘performance’ issue, this could be discrimination.
If you feel that you are being treated unfairly because of your condition or impairment, get legal advice and raise this with your manager. You can start with a conversation and follow up with an email to make sure you have a record.
You can challenge decisions by:
making a formal complaint or raising a grievance (useful if your employer is not following their own policies)
sending an email to your manager describing the things that your employer has done that could be discrimination
telling your employer if your treatment at work could lead to an unfair dismissal or disability discrimination claim
Employment tribunals are usually a last resort to get financial compensation. You have 3 months minus a day from when the event happened to apply to the tribunal. You do not have to pay fees to bring a claim.
If you’ve been working for the same employer for more than 2 years, you may also be able to challenge an ‘unfair dismissal’.