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Employer’s Failure to Make Reasonable Adjustments Leads to £75,000 Pay Out

Nov 14, 2017
An HMRC employee has been awarded just over £75,000 after a judge at Leeds Employment Tribunal found that HMRC failed to make reasonable adjustments for the employee’s depression. 

The employee, an administrative officer, had been employed by HMRC since April 1990. In December 2013, her team was disbanded and she was informed that she would have to move floors. 

Around this time, she informed her managers that she was struggling with alcoholism, as well as a mental health condition, which prevented her from moving desks. Eventually the employee apologised for making moving desks “a big thing” but said that she was settled at her original desk. 

An occupational health advisor informed HMRC in early 2014 that the employee had been suffering from depression for three years and was vulnerable to future mental health episodes. Despite this she was determined as fit to work. 

 Another office move was announced in April 2015. The employee once again protested, but was told that ultimately the decision was final. Her team leader stated “… he was not aware of issues around previous moves and, to be honest, he had no interest.”

The employee’s sickness absence worsened and ultimately HMRC made the decision to dismiss her by reason of ill health in August 2015. She brought a claim for unfair dismissal and disability discrimination, on account of her depression. 

The Tribunal upheld her claims and awarded over £75,000 by way of compensation, including £15,000 for injury to feelings caused by her poor treatment including the failure to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate her disability. 

This case highlights the importance for employers to tread carefully when dealing with employees with mental health conditions and the need for specialist legal advice to protect against the risk of claims and hefty compensation bills!