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Disability at Work – Supreme Court Judgement Clarifies Right to Reasonable Accommodation for Persons with Disabilities

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission has welcomed the recent Supreme Court ruling in Daly v Nano Nagle on the rights of persons with disabilities to have reasonable accommodation made in workplaces as set out in legislation. The Supreme Court judgment delivered by Mr. Justice John MacMenamin:

  1. Reverses the previous decision of the Court of Appeal by setting out that reasonable accommodation can involve a redistribution of any task or duty in a job, as long as not disproportionate in the context of the employment in question. This will be a welcome for many employers as the approach now looks at the individual’s employment as a whole by considering it within the wider context of its relationship to fellow workers and the workplace.
  2. Sets out an expectation of consultation of employees on reasonable accommodation. Whilst it is not mandatory for an employer, the Supreme Court noted that ““a wise employer will provide meaningful participation” not only with the person seeking reasonable accommodation but also with other employees in relation to the role. Again this is practical advice and we would suggest an employer always engages meaningfully with an employee where the issue of reasonable accommodation arises.
  3. Focuses on the dignity of the person and the centrality of the State’s obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) ratified by Ireland in 2018.

It is also worth re-reading Mr. Justice Peter Charleton’s comments where he states that it is not: “…particularly useful to see disability as medical in nature. A person with a disability remains a person, an individual with human dignity who is required to be treated as such.”

Many employers tend to look at an individual’s disability from a medical perspective when there are many other considerations at play including the fundamentals rights to dignity and respect.

A full copy of the press release can be reviewed here and we will shortly be reviewing the decision in more detail in our next blog post.

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