UK Duties of Contracts and Companies

The Equality Act confirms that legally,  there is a duty to make reasonable adjustments if you are placed at a substantial disadvantage because of your disability; in comparison to those without. 

Throughout life, we are pushed into accepting contracts in order to maintain our place in society. These contracts have requirements when with companies who are providing goods and or services like shops, banks, cinemas, hospitals, council offices, leisure centres, associations and private clubs like the Scouts and Guides, private golf clubs and working men's clubs - They must all consider three factors in order to ensure they are making the service easier for you to access, or for you to do something. The three things they may have to do in consideration of the Equality Act 2010 are as follows:

Change the way things are done

Some people or organisations may have a certain way of doing things which makes it more difficult for you to access or do something. This could be a formal or informal policy, a rule or a practice. It could also be a one-off decision. The Equality Act calls this a provision, a criterion or practice. The organisation should change these things if they are a barrier for you, unless it’s unreasonable to do so.

Change a physical feature

Sometimes a physical feature of a building or other premises may make it more difficult for you to access or use it. You may ask for adjustments to physical features where this occurs, such as;

  • Steps and stairs

  • Passageways and paths

  • Entrances and exits

  • Internal and external doors

  • Toilets

  • Signs

  • Lighting and ventilation

  • The size of premises.

The kind of adjustments which could be made includes removing, changing or providing a way of avoiding the physical feature, where it’s reasonable to do so.

Provide extra aids or services

Sometimes you may need particular aids or equipment to help you access or do something; or you may need additional services. The Equality Act calls this auxiliary aids and services. If your condition is substantial and affects your day to day activities, you are within your rights to request the following if needed;

  • A portable induction loop for people with hearing aids

  • BSL interpreters

  • Providing information in alternative formats, such as Braille or audio CD’s, Emails instead of calls

  • Extra staff assistance

The decision of whether an adjustment is reasonable is based on the following factors;

  • Your disability

  • How practicable the changes are

  • If the change you ask for would overcome the disadvantage you and other disabled people experience

  • The size of the organisation

  • How much money and resources are available

  • The cost of making the changes

  • If any changes have already been made.

What to do when discrimination happens to you?

  1. Follow the complaints procedure as per the companies or organisations process, through to the bitter end or until you gain the response that morally settles you.

  2. If you are unable to resolve the issue with the company directly, it may be wise to involve an ombudsman. You can ask the company or organisation to refer you to the appropriate ombudsman, which is also provided at the end of following a companies complaints procedure. For financial services it remains the Financial Conduct Authority. Other services will require specific ombudsmen.

  3. If you do not reach a solution with the Ombudsman assistance, you can request information on the court in which you will be required to apply. Applying to the court can become a costly process depending on your position, you are able to apply for Help With fees, just remember that you are not in the wrong for sticking up for yourself. You can find more information on how to apply to courts on both the CAB and UK Government website. At this stage, make a note of the kinds of discrimination or behaviour that you rare facing, for the purpose of submitting these precise claims to the court.