Anti-Discrimination Board of NSW

Work arrangement changed

Concilitions: Disability discrimination in employment

Published: 20 September 2017

A woman with a disability was told that she would have to move from a permanent arrangement to contract work when she asked to work reduced hours.

A woman with scoliosis who worked for a cleaning company found she was getting a sore back while using a vacuum cleaner carried on her back, so she asked her employer if she could work reduced hours.

The employer said that only full-time staff could be permanent employees and if she wanted to work reduced hours she would need to become a contractor. However after this arrangement was put in place she was offered less work and eventually it stopped altogether, so she made a complaint of disability discrimination.

The employer denied that they were discriminating against the woman and said they had tried to accommodate her needs. However, it wasn't possible for her to work part-time as an ongoing employee because of the way their business model operated.

The employer said that using the back-pack vacuum cleaner was an inherent requirement of the job which the woman was unable to fulfil. The company was mainly cleaning schools where the arrangement of desks would make using a pull-along vacuum cleaner unfeasible

At conciliation, the employer agreed to pay the women $3,000 for hurt feelings and loss of income. This resolved the complaint.

What are my work rights?

If you are the best person for the job and you can do all the essential parts of the job, then you should get the job, irrespective of your disability. Employers can only refuse to give you a job if you can't do the essential parts or 'inherent requirements' of that job.

​​More information on Disability discrimination​

​Back to​ September 2017 - Equal Time Newsletter​​​​​

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