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Policy of non-discrimination

We have been considering putting in a permanent health insurance scheme at

our company and have heard that this may help us to comply with the

Disability Discrimination Act. Please can you give us more information.

The Disability Discrimination Act came into effect on Decem-ber 2, 1996

and was extended in October 1999 to cover the way in which goods and

services are provided.

The act has made it illegal to discriminate against disabled people in a

variety of areas including employment.

Discrimination occurs when a disabled person is treated less favourably

than someone else as a result of his or her disability. The definition of a

disabled person covers people who have or have had a disability which makes

it difficult for them to carry out their normal day-to-day activities.

An employer must ensure that it complies with the act in all areas of

employment including the recruitment and selection process, terms of

employment and employee benefits, promotion, training and dismissal.

The act requires an employer to make any reasonable adjustments to allow a

disabled employee to return to work after an accident or illness. Some of

the examples of adjustments given in the act include adjustments to the

premises, acquiring or modifying equipment or providing a reader or

interpreter.

The employer can dismiss a disabled employee if such adjustments are not

possible and they cannot undertake sufficient of their normal duties.

However, this must be done very carefully to avoid possible prosecution

under the act.

The employer would be required to show that the essential demands of the

job were identified, possible adjustments were considered and discussed

with the employee and, where appropriate, expert advice was taken.

The act can be enforced by an employee or potential employee bringing a

complaint to an industrial tribunal.

The tribunal is given wide powers under the act. If it is decided that

discrimination has occurred, it can require the employer to grant

compensation and/or take any remedial action which it feels is appropriate.

A permanent health insurance plan is an insurance policy which provides an

income to employees who are unable to work due to ill health. The income

will be paid after a specified waiting period and will usually continue

until the employee returns to work or reaches retirement age.

A PHI scheme can help the employer in a variety of ways. If the correct

policy is chosen, it will provide an income if an employee is not able to

do their own job. The assessment of this will depend on similar essential

duties as required under the act.

The income from the insurance policy will usually be paid as a gross

amount to the employer to be passed to the employee via the payroll. This

ensures that employment can effectively continue without causing a

financial burden on the employer.

PHI plans can also provide cover for employers&#39 National Insurance

contributions and pension premiums so all employment costs can be met.

The income provided by the policy will obviously be welcome for any

employee concerned about maintaining their livelihood in the event of

long-term ill health. In such circumstances, where the employee is unable

to return to work, continuation of income via the policy should lead to an

amicable agreement with the employer.

Additional services can also be provided via the insurance company, which

will be able to provide help in defining the essential duties of the

employee&#39s job along with information about adjustments which can be made

in the workplace.

Most leading insurers in this market also employ specialist counsellors

who will assist both the employee and employer on an ongoing basis.

If the insurer can help the employer to make necessary adjustments to the

workplace which allow the employee to remain employed, even on a lower

income, this will be in everyone&#39s interests. The insurer will continue to

pay a reduced benefit if any reduction in the employee&#39s duties means their

salary has to be reduced from its former level.

There are a large number of PHI policies on the market which vary

enormously not only in cost but also in terms and conditions. I would be

happy to discuss your company&#39s individual requirements and provide details

of costings.

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