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What Has Limited the Impact of UK Disability Equality Law on Social Justice?

Department of Human Resources and Organisational Behaviour, University of Greenwich, 30 Park Row, London SE10 9LS, UK
Academic Editor: Bernadette Rainey
Received: 30 August 2016 / Revised: 24 October 2016 / Accepted: 26 October 2016 / Published: 9 November 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Law of Human Rights and Social Justice)
Full-Text   |   PDF [269 KB, uploaded 9 November 2016]


The literature indicates that disabled workers in the UK experience more social injustice than UK workers as a whole, including in relation to employment rates and wage levels. Drawing on the author’s 2015 qualitative study of 265 disabled workers, this paper considers how successful the Equality Act 2010 Reasonable Adjustments Duty has been in tackling this social injustice. It finds that in the context of the “flexible” labour force (consisting of insecure jobs), and the “reformed” welfare state, the Reasonable Adjustments Duty is ill-equipped to achieve its original purpose of reducing the substantial disadvantage that disabled workers face. As regards the “flexible” labour force, there appeared, for example, to be a strong reluctance to make reasonable adjustments for workers on zero hours contracts; while, as regards the impact of welfare reform, fear of being dismissed and facing benefit sanctions discouraged zero hours workers from pushing for adjustments which had been refused. The paper goes on to suggest a possible wording for a strengthened Reasonable Adjustments Duty. It concludes, however, that, without changes to unfair dismissal, and other labour laws, to address the wider iniquities of the flexible labour market, a strengthened duty will not be able to prevent a long term increase in social injustice for disabled workers. View Full-Text
Keywords: social justice; disability; employment; Equality Act 2010; reasonable adjustments social justice; disability; employment; Equality Act 2010; reasonable adjustments
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Harwood, R. What Has Limited the Impact of UK Disability Equality Law on Social Justice? Laws 2016, 5, 42.

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