Employment Equality Act

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eferred to as appropriate measures) unless the measures would impose a disproportionate burden on the employer. (Equality Act 2004 Please see below for further details).

Special measures:
The Act allows for special measures for persons with a disability to facilitate their integration into employment, by reducing or eliminating the effects of discrimination. The Act allows for the provision of special rates of remuneration, treatment or facilities for persons with a disability, if by reason of that disability the employee is restricted in his/her capacity to do the same amount of work (or to work the same hours) as a person who is employed to do the work.

The Act also provides that an employer is not obliged to provide special treatment or facilities if more than a disproportionate burden is likely to be incurred.
The concept of ‘nominal cost’ (disproportionate burden) includes the following:

    the nature of the accommodations that would be required;


    the cost of the accommodation and the number of people who would benefit;


    the financial circumstances of the employer;


    the disruption that would be caused by the provision of the accommodation.


The case law to date indicates that nominal cost is not a fixed sum but will be assessed on the basis of company size and turnover, and that the particular circumstances will be evaluated in each case. (Companies are advised to consult with IBEC for further information and advice).

Types of discrimination:
There are different types of discrimination provided for in the Employment Equality Act, 1998. They are direct or indirect discrimination.

Direct discrimination occurs when one person is treated less favourably than another, specifically because of their disability Indirect discrimination is defined as being by impact or effect. It occurs where there are requirements or practices which outwardly appear to apply to everyone, but actually work to the disadvantage of one group more than another. Such a practice or requirement will be indirectly discriminatory unless the employer can justify it as being reasonable in all circumstances.

Pay:
The Employment Equality Act, 1998 allows an employer to provide a special rate of pay for an employee with a disability if that employee is restricted in his/her capacity to do the same amount of work or work the same number of hours as a person without a disability.

The Act also allows the employer to provide special treatment/facilities to enable the person with the disability to undertake vocational training, take part in a selection process, or to have a working environment suited to the disability.An individual who feels they have been discriminated against may take a case to the Office of the Director of Equality Investigations (ODEI) or the Labour Court, as appropriate.

The ODEI or the Equality Tribunal is an independent quasi- judicial body that hears and decides complaints of unlawful discrimination under both the Employment Equality and Equal Status acts. ODEI equality officers issue decisions that may be appealed. The ODEI also provides a mediation service.

Equality Act 2004:
Under the Equality Act 2004 an employer is obliged to take appropriate measures (provide reasonable accommodation) to enable a person who has a disability:
(i) to have access to employment;
(ii) to participate or advance in employment;
(iii) to undergo training;
unless the measures would impose a disproportionate burden on the employer.

In determining whether the measures would impose such a burden account shall be taken, in particular, of:
(i.) the financial and other costs entailed;
(ii.) the scale and financial resources of the employer’s business and;
(iii.) the possibility of obtaining public funding or other assistance.

And the following definition has been inserted in the legislation:
"appropriate measures", in relation to a person with a disability—
a) means effective and practical measures, where needed in a particular case, to adapt the employer’s place of business to the disability concerned,
b) …includes the adaptation of premises and equipment, patterns of working time, distribution of tasks or the provision of training or integration resources, but
c) does not include any treatment, facility or thing that the person might ordinarily or reasonably provide for himself or herself’.

The Employment Equality Act 1998. - 27th of October 2004

The Employment Equality Acts 1998 makes it illegal to discriminate with regard to pay (excluding pensions) and non- pay issues on nine grounds, including disability. ...

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