Is it reasonable to expect an employer to pay a disabled employee at the same rate of pay when he is only capable of fulfilling the duties of a role that attracts a lower rate of pay?
Yes, said the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) in G4S Cash Solutions (UK) Ltd v Powell.
Mr. Powell had been moved from an engineering role maintaining cash machines to a less skilled ‘key runner’ role due to his disability. After an initial period of protected pay, his employer proposed to reduce Mr. Powell’s pay by around 10%. Mr. Powell refused the pay cut and was dismissed.
The Employment Tribunal ruled that the dismissal was discriminatory and unfair, and that the reasonable adjustments required extended to maintaining Mr. Powell’s former pay in his new role. The employer appealed the decision.
The EAT said that there was no reason, in principle, why the duty to make reasonable adjustments would not extend to protecting an employee’s pay (along with other measures) to counter a disabled employee’s disadvantage. The question will always be whether it is reasonable for an employer to have to take that step to avert a disabled employee’s disadvantage.
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