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What is a disability?

Nick Singer

12 June 2018

Disability Discrimination

Key disability discrimination points

A person is disabled if they have a physical or mental impairment which has a substantially adverse and long-term effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities. In the workplace such activities are taken to include things like using a telephone or computer, interacting with colleagues, following instructions, driving and carrying everyday objects.

I put the following question to employment law barrister Nick Singer.

In the field of Employment Law, what is a disability?

Video Transcript

Hello, my name's Mark Ferron MD of Castle Associates and if you like to know what a disability is from an employment law point of view then please watch this short video an expert Barrister Nick Singer will explain.

That is an amazingly complicated question to the point where and there have been about 50 or 60 cases on it and an entire 100-page chapter in a textbook, so it's not easy. The definition is a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long-term impact on your ability to do day-to-day activities and the amount of case law that has been generated by that phrase is extraordinary. Suffice to say it doesn't, that is, the definition does not reflect the reality, so, for example, substantial actually means more than minor or trivial and likely actually means could well happen. So it's a very very technical definition extremely difficult to unpick in many cases and therefore definitely one where you may wish to get legal advice on it. There there's a lot of good guidance on the internet as well which can help but as I say it's a surprisingly technical definition.

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