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Kidney Patients and Employment

Kidney Patients and Employment

Although you may be entitled to state benefits, many patients diagnosed with kidney disease wish to continue in employment. Having chronic kidney disease makes it very difficult to continue to work but you are protected from discrimination (i.e. being dismissed because of your condition) under the Equality Act 2010 (“the Act”).  The older Disability Rights Act is incorporated into this Act. 

As with all matters of law, this can be quite a complex issue, but we have attempted to provide some basic information which both employees and employers should know. 

Definition of disability under the Equality Act 2010

You’re disabled under the Equality Act 2010 if you have a physical or mental impairment that has a ‘substantial’ and ‘long-term’ negative effect on your ability to do normal daily activities. 

The Equality Act 2010 prohibits discrimination against people with the protected characteristics that are specified in section 4 of the Act. Disability is one of the specified protected characteristics. Protection from discrimination for disabled people applies to disabled people in a range of circumstances, covering the provision of goods, facilities and services, the exercise of public functions, premises, work, education, and associations. Only those disabled people who are defined as disabled in accordance with section 6 of the Act, and the associated Schedules and regulations made under that section, will be entitled to the protection that the Act provides to disabled people. However, the Act also provides protection for non-disabled people who are subjected to direct discrimination or harassment because of their association with a disabled person or because they are wrongly perceived to be disabled. 

The time taken to carry out a normal day-to-day activity by a person with an impairment should be considered when assessing whether the effect of that impairment is substantial. It should be compared with the time it might take a person who did not have the impairment to complete an activity.

When you are a dialysis patient you should be classed as “disabled” under the Equality Act 2010,

As a disabled person you will have certain rights.  If you work for a large company you can discuss your needs with your HR Department.  Smaller companies may not have a specific department but should be aware of your rights.

Employers cannot dismiss you on the grounds of your disabilities/illnesses. 

Under the Act employers are obliged to make your working environment as suitable for your needs as possible.  For dialysis patients some examples would be : 

  • providing a clean space for peritoneal dialysis,
  • provide equipment which will help you to carry out your duties
  • allow time off for your necessary appointments,
  • change your working hours to a suitable more manageable level,
  • offer lighter duties
  • provide regular breaks if you need them

Of course, it may not always be possible for some employers to make these adjustments and it may eventually mean looking for a more suitable position. 

Check your work Contract to find out how much sick pay you are entitled to.  Once you have reached this limit and are unable to continue with your current position you can apply for Employment Support Allowance.  You will be assessed for work capability and help should be offered to help you to find work that you are able to manage.

If your condition makes it impossible for you to carry out any kind of employment then you can apply for Personal Independence Payment.  You will be assessed for this benefit based on your medical conditions and the level of assistance you need in your daily life.

The Equality Act 2010 doesn’t apply to Northern Ireland. 

Further advice for Employers and Employees from the Department of Work & Pensions can be found at www.fitforwork.org

The National Kidney Federation cannot accept responsibility for information provided. The above is for guidance only