The definition of disability

The definition of disability

Employers will be familiar with the fact there is legislation in place to protect those with disabilities from being treated less favourably in the workplace due to their condition. In order to be protected from discrimination, a disability must meet the legal definition.

It is important for employers to take note that disability does not just mean a physical impairment but also mental impairments as well.

To be classed as disabled the impairment would need to fulfil certain criteria. The impairment must have an adverse effect on normal day-to-day activities which must be both substantial and long term (longer than 12 months).

It is irrelevant if the employee (who meets the disabled definition) is taking medication which keeps the condition managed as they are still deemed disabled.

There are however traps for the unwary. For example, if an employee has Cancer, HIV or MS (Multiple Sclerosis) then they are automatically considered disabled from the point they are diagnosed.

Similarly, an Employee diagnosed with any of the following conditions would not be classed as Disabled under current legislation:

  • Pyromania
  • Kleptomania
  • Exhibitionism
  • Voyeurism
  • Tendency to physical or sexual abuse of other persons

If you would like to learn more about recent changes to the definition of disability then please sign up to our seminar on the 8th November 2023 by emailing

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