A legal services employer has been ordered to pay €30,000 to an epileptic employee over its refusal to allow her work from home.
The woman works as a solicitor and had made six unsuccessful requests with her employer between March 2015 and January 2017 to work from home.
The woman has experienced a number of acute or ‘grand mal’ attacks and her requests were made in a period in which her health was continuing to decline in a serious way.
The woman pointed out that other colleagues have been facilitated with working from home.
In ordering the employer pay the €30,000 in compensation to the employee for breaching her rights under the Employment Equality Acts, Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) Adjudication Officer, Pat Brady said that there should be a zero risk approach to a situation where there is a possibility of a life-threatening event.
Mr. Brady said that the employer had set its face firmly against accommodating its employee in her request to work from home whatever argument she made.
Mr. Brady found that the failure of the employer to make any ‘reasonable accommodation’ for the employee over her home working request was a breach of the Employment Equality Act.
Mr. Brady stated that the medical evidence in the case “is not very decisive”.
He reported that anything that will reduce stress will help the worker but that the request to work from home would only make a ‘minimal’ contribution to this.
Mr. Brady stated that the employer seemed either content to accept, or was indifferent to, a risk arising from the ‘minimal’ impact assessment, despite the possibility of a catastrophic outcome for the employee concerned.
In the case, the employer told its employee that it would be ‘very challenging’ were she to work at home and ‘incompatible’ with her role and functions.
However, the employer had agreed to other measures such as a reduction in the working week
The employee stated that it would create no difficulty whatsoever to work from home and that she had ‘huge autonomy’ in relation to the delivery of her tasks.
She said that she was willing to be entirely flexible and respond to business needs as required. She also said that much of her work, of a preparatory nature, for example, could just as easily be performed from home as from her office.
Mr Brady said that a company representative shrugging his shoulders at the hearing indicated that there was no company view as as to how the employee could be accommodated.
The original article appeared on Independent.ie