Pay protection and reasonable adjustments


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The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has held in Aleem v E-Act Academy that it is not a reasonable adjustment to protect pay permanently when disability means that a teacher can no longer teach.

The claimant was a science teacher who became unable to teach due to mental ill health which amounted to a disability. She moved to an alternative role as a cover supervisor which attracted a lower level of pay. For three months her pay was protected at the higher rate, but it was made clear that the pay protection was a temporary measure during the probation period for the new role.

When the claimant accepted the new role permanently her pay was reduced to that of a cover supervisor. She then brought a claim for a failure to make reasonable adjustments on the basis that she should have continued to be paid at a teacher's pay rate. The tribunal dismissed her claim and, on appeal, the EAT found that it was clear that the higher pay for a limited period for particular reasons was quite different to the expectation that the higher pay should be permanent. The adjustment was a temporary one and it would not be reasonable to continue the higher rate of pay.

Take note: A decision to make a reasonable adjustment to accommodate an employee's disability (in this case pay protection for a period of three months when undertaking an alternative role) will not necessarily have to be an indefinite one as the decision in Aleem demonstrates. Here the claimant's new role did not involve teaching duties and so there was no need to continue paying her at the higher rate of pay accorded to teachers.

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