EAT decision on disability discrimination – making reasonable adjustments

Wednesday 27th March 2024

Last week, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) upheld the Tribunal’s decision that an employer failed to make a reasonable adjustment when it dismissed a disabled employee rather than placing him in an alternative role on a trial basis.


In this case of Miller v Rentokil, the employee was no longer able to work within his role as a field-based pest controller after his diagnosis of multiple sclerosis meant he could not work at heights (which made up 40% of his role) and could only work slowly. The Claimant therefore applied for a potentially suitable alternative administrative role. The Respondent rejected his application for such role on the basis he did not have suitable skills and experience, specifically that he did not have experience of using Excel.


The EAT found in favour of the Claimant, concluding that offering the Claimant a trial period and retraining him for the admin role would have been considered a reasonable adjustment. The Respondent was ordered to pay the Claimant £14,445.43 in compensation.

What this means for employers?

We are seeing an increase in long-term sickness absence queries and this decision acts as a great reminder for employers to ensure they have done all they reasonably can to try to facilitate a disabled employee’s return to the workplace before reaching a decision to dismiss, including exploration of alternative roles where they can no longer work within their existing role. There is, of course, no ‘one size fits all’ solution, as what is deemed ‘reasonable’ is an entirely subjective concept which will be dependent on the circumstantial facts.


If you are in any doubt about your obligations as a reasonable employer, always seek advice – failure to do so could prove costly.

Please speak to a member of the Employment Team who will be happy to assist.