Disability Discrimination Act

From Academic Kids

The Disability Discrimination Act is a UK parliamentary act of 1995, which makes it unlawful to discriminate against people in respect of their disabilities in relation to employment, the provision of goods and services, education and transport. It is a civil rights law. Other countries use constitutional, social rights or criminal law to make similar provisions. See Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 for corresponding USA legislation - though this does not have a positive equality duty. The British Government set up the Disability Rights Commission to provide support for the Act. Equivalent legislation exists in Northern Ireland, which is enforced by the Northern Ireland Equality Commission.

It is still permissible for employers to have reasonable medical criteria for employment, and to expect adequate performance from all employees once any reasonable adjustments have been made.

In addition to imposing obligations on employers, the Act places duties on service providers and requires reasonable adjustments to be made when providing access to goods, facilities, services and premises (Part 3 of the Act).

The Act was amended by the following legislation:

  • The Disability Rights Commission Act 1999, which replaced the National Disability Council with the Disability Rights Commission (DRC);
  • The Special Educational Needs and Disability Act 2001 inserted new provisions in Part 4 of the Act in connection with disability discrimination in schools and other educational establishments;
  • The Private Hire Vehicles (Carriage of Guide Dogs etc) Act 2002, which prevented operators of such vehicles refusing to take assistance dogs, or making additional charges for such dogs; and
  • The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (Amendment) Regulations 2003, and the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (Pensions) Regulations 2003 which amended the DDA in line with the EU employment directive.
  • The Disability Discrimination Act 2005, which completed the implementation of the Disability Rights Task Force recommendations, including the extension of the DDA to cover public transport, and the introduction of a duty on public authorities to promote equality for disabled people.

The details of the positive duty to promote equality are discussed in Delivering Equality for Disabled People (http://www.dwp.gov.uk/publications/dwp/2004/equality/)

A consultation document on the use of other regulation-making powers can be found here (http://www.official-documents.co.uk/document/cm64/6402/6402.htm)

The Equality Bill would replace the DRC with a new Commission for Equality and Human Rights, with powers to issue guidance on and enforce all the equality enactments (covering race, sex, disability, religion and belief, sexual orientation and age).

See Ontarians with Disabilities Act for the corresponding legislation in Ontario, Canada.

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