Understanding Disability

The University is committed to attracting, growing and engaging with talented people from diverse backgrounds at every level. As part of this commitment the University recognises the importance of inclusivity within the University community, to ensure that all can flourish and reach their full potential.

The Equality Act 2010 defines Disability as follows: “a person will be classed as disabled in law if he or she has a physical or mental impairment and the impairment has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities”.

The Act gives protection to individuals with “protected characteristics”, including those with a disability, to ensure that no job applicant or staff member receives less favourable treatment, making it unlawful for an employer to discriminate against someone because of their disability (this includes a number of types of discrimination).

It also places a duty on employers to make "reasonable adjustments" to any provision, criterion or practice applied in the workplace and to physical features of their premises, in order to accommodate the needs of disabled employees and job applicants.

Conditions/Impairments covered by the Equality Act 2010

Although there is no definitive list of conditions/impairments that are protected by the Act, the legislation specifically protects;

  • cancer, multiple sclerosis and HIV are covered effectively from point of diagnosis, and;
  • those registered with a local authority as blind or partially sighted.

If an individual has been disabled in the past due to a condition from which they have since recovered or from which they are in remission, then they remain protected from discrimination, victimisation or harassment under the Act.

In practice, each case must be considered individually, based on the definition given above taking into consideration the effects of the impairment on the individual and support should ideally be sought from Human Resources.

For further information about discrimination, please see: www.shef.ac.uk/hr/equality/focus/equalityact/types

For further information about reasonable adjustments, please see: www.sheffield.ac.uk/hr/guidance/leave/sickness/disability/ra

For further information about the Equality Act 2010, please see: www.shef.ac.uk/hr/equality/focus/equalityact/index