In August 2016 the Employment Appeal Tribunal heard a case about reasonable adjustments position and how far an employer must go to make reasonable adjustments for a disabled employee. In this case, the primary aspect was salary adjustment.

The case of G4S Cash Solutions (UK) Ltd v Powell UKEAT/0243/15/RN saw the Employment Appeal Tribunal (“EAT”) deal with the case of Mr P, a cash machine engineer working for G4S Cash Solutions, who suffered back problems which amounted to a disability under the Equality Act. Due to this, Mr P was placed in a new position as a driver whilst maintaining the same salary he had as an engineer. However, after 12 months in this new position, the employer wanted to reduce Mr P’s salary to the rate that the position of driver would normally attract. Mr P subsequently refused this amendment of pay and his employer dismissed him.

Mr P appealed his dismissal and took his employer to the Employment Tribunal.

The Employment Tribunal decided that the employer had failed to make a reasonable adjustment and that ultimately Mr P should continue to be paid the same salary as when he was an engineer which he had been paid for 12 months previously.

The decision of the Employment Tribunal was appealed by the employer and the employer’s appeal was dismissed. The EAT believed that the original decision of the ET should stand, in terms of continuing to pay Mr P his normal salary whilst in his adjusted position. The EAT stated that maintaining salary can be a reasonable adjustment.

In their judgment, the EAT set out certain factors which could be taken into consideration when deciding on reasonable steps an employer can take. The EAT quoted paragraph 6.28 of The Statutory Code of Practice on Employment (2011), which outlines these as:

  • whether taking any particular steps would be effective in preventing the substantial disadvantage;
  • the practicability of the step;
  • the financial and other costs of making the adjustment and the extent of any disruption caused;
  • the extent of the employer’s financial or other resources;
  • the availability to the employer of financial or other assistance to help make an adjustment (such as advice through Access to Work); and
  • the type and size of the employer.

The EAT considered that there is a key objective to keep employees in work and that providing reasonable adjustments, including payment protection, for the employee would not be unreasonable to keep them working. Attempting to reduce pay in order to avoid upsetting other employees is not a reasonable excuse for trying to reduce the pay of an employee who is having their employment adjusted.