Employer Not Required to Waive Competitive Interview Process for Disabled Employee

2 mins

Posted on 14 Aug 2013

An employer’s failure to waive its competitive interview process and appoint a redundant disabled employee to a vacant role was not a breach of the duty to make reasonable adjustments in circumstances where the employer considered the employee “not appointable”. 

In Wade v Sheffield Hallam University, W suffered an allergic condition and adjustments had been made to enable her to perform her role. When her role subsequently became redundant, she was told that that as a redundant employee she would be given priority consideration for an alternative vacant post. She was required to undergo a competitive interview process and was told that if she met the criteria for the job, and adjustments could reasonably be made, she would be appointed. Following an interview, the employer concluded she was “not appointable” and told her that she had not demonstrated that she met the relevant criteria. 

W claimed that the employer had failed to make reasonable adjustments by not waiving the competitive interview requirement in her case. The EAT disagreed. Whilst it was suggested by the House of Lords in Archibald v Fife that disapplying a competitive interview process might constitute a reasonable adjustment, that case was not authority for the proposition that such an adjustment would be reasonable in every case. The adjustment sought here was not reasonable as it was tantamount to appointing her to a role for which she did not meet the requirements. It was reasonable for the employer to insist on the essential requirements of the job being met. 

The EAT’s decision that employers are not required to appoint a disabled employee to a role for which they do not meet the essential requirements is perfectly sensible. However, employers should still consider whether a vacant role can be adjusted so that the disabled employee is able to perform it. 

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