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Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police v Jelic

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Last updated 9th May 2010.

Swapping jobs with someone else, or medical retirement followed by re-employment, were capable of being reasonable adjustments. The normal test applies, namely are they reasonable steps for the employer to have to take in the circumstances.

Employment Appeal Tribunal, 2010. Full judgment: bailii.org.

A police officer developed chronic anxiety syndrome. He was eventually medically retired from the police service.

An employment tribunal held that in the circumstances it would have been a reasonable adjustment to:

  • swap the jobs being undertaken by him and another constable whose role did not involve face to face contact with the public; or
  • medically retire him on a police pension and immediately re-employ him in a civilian support staff role in the force.

Held by Employment Appeal Tribunal: these were capable of being reasonable adjustments. The list of possible adjustments in DDA s.18B(2) referred to transferring a disabled person to fill an ‘existing vacancy’, but this list was not exhaustive. The question was what steps it is reasonable for the employer to have to take in the circumstances.

The Employment Appeal Tribunal cited with approval a decision in Southampton City College v Randall [2006] to the effect that creation of a new post in substitution for an existing post was not precluded as a matter of law from being a reasonable adjustment. It must depend upon the facts of the case. In the Southampton case, the College had embarked upon a substantial reorganisation and restructuring process and had ‘a blank sheet of paper’ for this process and for the job specifications which resulted. In these circumstances it would have been possible to devise a job which would both take account of the employee’s disability and harness the benefits of his successful career and experience. It was not being suggested that the employer should have created a post which was not otherwise necessary.

As regards swapping jobs, the Employment Appeal Tribunal mentioned that part of the factual matrix here was the disciplined nature of the police force, and that even if the other officer objected he could be ordered to swap jobs.

The employer’s appeal did, however, succeed inasmuch as the employment tribunal had not given adequate reasons for its finding on the second adjustment.

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