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Unions Propose New 'Passports' to Support Disabled Workers

on Friday, 15 March 2019.

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) and the GMB Union (GMB) have proposed 'disability passports' to assist disabled workers get the support they need in the workplace.

A TUC analysis recently found that 391,000 disabled people left work in the last year, and an additional 555,000 disabled people started work with a new employer. According to TUC, a key issue that may cause a disabled person to drop out of work or change jobs is that their employer has failed to make the reasonable adjustments required to enable them to do their jobs.

The aim of the new model documents, including a reasonable adjustments 'passport' and an accompanying policy, is to combat what the unions see as key issues faced by disabled people in the workplace by providing a unified system to agree, record, put in place and review adjustments on a regular basis.

How Would the Disability Passport Work?

The model passport is intended to record the reasonable adjustments which have been agreed between an employer and an employee in order to support the disabled employee, remove barriers, and mitigate disadvantages they face as a result of their disability.

Such adjustments might include adapting workplace equipment or allowing for flexible working. There is also space in the passport to record details of the nature of the employee's disability, how a fluctuating condition impacts on the employee at work, emergency and specialist contacts and review dates.

Under the unions' proposals the passport would be held and controlled by the employee in question, who could then share it with other individuals as deemed beneficial.

The TUC recommends that the reasonable adjustments are reviewed six months after they have been put into place, and then later at the worker's request, to ensure that the adjustments are and remain effective and to determine whether requirements have changed.

How Does It Impact Employers?

There is no obligation on employers to adopt the passport system proposed by the unions.  If the system is considered, the documents should be carefully reviewed and tailored to fit the particular circumstances of your workplace. You should be particularly careful that the documents do not unintentionally vary contracts of employment.

You should also not rely wholly on this scheme - a robust system should be in place to ensure that any new manager understands an employee's needs, whether or not the employee chooses to share an adjustment passport.


To find out more about adopting the passport system in your organisation, please contact Gemma Cawthray in our Employment Law team on 0117 314 5266.

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