This recent case against a global café chain highlights the importance of:
- Getting a disciplinary & grievance correct, and
- Not assuming what an employee can do or not do due a disability.
Starbucks wrongly accused an employee of falsifying documents. In fact, it was her dyslexia that has caused inaccurate recording of fridge and water temperatures. A tribunal has found Starbucks guilty of discrimination as it made no reasonable adjustments for this employee despite being made fully aware of her circumstances.
People Management reports that the employee always made it known to her employer that she was dyslexic, She had asked for more time to allow her to understand tasks, and for someone to check her work for mistakes. In reality, Starbucks has not made reasonable adjustments despite knowing of the employee’s disability.
Shainaz Firfiray, an assistant professor of organisation and HRM at Warwick Business School said: “Such adjustments are neither expensive nor do they require employers to implement significant changes to their existing policies.
“Dyslexic employees can be more effective in their roles if they are encouraged to communicate their workplace difficulties, given advanced notice of challenging tasks and provided the support to perform tasks without giving them the impression that their abilities are being doubted.”
At Consensus HR, we know and understand the importance of making reasonable adjustments. But – these should not be made in a way that makes an employee feel undervalued. Instead, changes should be introduced through detailed discussion and within the constraints imposed. Examples of such constraints include time and cost.
Reasonable adjustments should be made that will benefit the employee due to their disability and also the company whilst allowing them to still work.
These do not need to be expensive or complicated. They could involve simply:
- Adjusting what times a person starts and/or finishes work
- Purchasing a new piece of equipment
- Amending working roles and accountabilities with members of the team
We ensure that our clients manage their employees correctly and reasonably, benefitting both the employee and the employer and complying with employment law.