This page introduces employment rights under the Equality Act. You have these rights if your stammer is a "disability" as defined, or in some cases if you are perceived to have a disability.
Practically anything to do with employment is covered, including recruitment, promotion, transfers, dismissals, redundancy, training or other benefits.
The Equality Act covers treating someone less favourably related to their disability. There is also an important duty to make reasonable adjustments.
Recruitment and promotion
- There is a right to reasonable adjustments to the recruitment process. This may include for example extra time, greater attention paid to written material, and adjustments as regards any telephone interviews, presentations and assessments.
- Turning down a job applicant for a discriminatory reason can also be unlawful. In particular:
- Stereotyping may be unlawful as direct discrimination, for example assuming that a particular type of job could not be done by someone who stammers, rather than looking at the individual's abilities.
- Turning someone down because of communication abilities related to the stammer is likely to be unlawful unless the employer shows that turning the person down was a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim. If a claim is brought (under s.15 Equality Act), a tribunal would conduct a balancing exercise, considering such things as the employer's aim, the detriment to the claimant, and are there other ways the aim could have been achieved without turning the person down.
- If there would be difficulties in the job, it is important whether they can be addressed by reasonable adjustments.
- See Employment: Recruitment and promotion.
When in a job
- There is still sometimes workplace bullying or harassment of people who stammer. This is unlawful under the Equality Act.
- The right to reasonable adjustments can be important to help deal with any difficulties related to the stammer.
- See Employment: In the job.
What about losing one's job?
- If the reason is something connected with the stammer, again it will often be unlawful unless the employer shows that the dismissal was a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim. If a claim is brought (under s.15 Equality Act), a tribunal would conduct a balancing exercise, considering such things as the employer's aim, the detriment to the claimant, and are there other ways the aim could have been achieved without dismissing them.
- As well as the Equality Act, other types of claim - particularly unfair dismissal - can be important here.
- Employers will find dismissal harder to justify if they do not follow appropriate procedures under ACAS guidance.
- See Losing one's job.
Some individual points:
For more see the Employment FAQs.
See these Employment links. The following are particularly recommended on the British Stammering Association website, as general guides on stammering and employment rather than focused on the law:
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Last updated 31st October 2018