No-one should be forced to leave a job because of their health, age, disability or caring responsibilities.
It is actually illegal for your employer to treat you less favourably or make you redundant on those grounds alone.
What the law says
The Equality Act 2010 makes it illegal to discriminate anyone in the workplace (and other places) because of certain ‘protected characteristics’ including disability, age and pregnancy. It also protects you if you are caring for someone who is elderly or disabled.
The law puts a duty on employers to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to enable disabled people to remain in – or return to – work. This means nothing about your working conditions or workplace should put you at a disadvantage compared to other, non-disabled workers.
The 2010 Act extended previous anti-discrimination legislation by providing protection against indirect discrimination.
Practical support at work
The Access to Work scheme provides practical support to disabled people who want to continue or start working in paid employment, including self-employment. You must have a disability or health condition that is likely to last for at least a year. If you are eligible, the fund can help by providing equipment which a non-disabled person doing the same job would not need,for example special equipment, a support worker or a taxi to work (if you can’t use public transport).
If you change jobs, you can also apply for funding to move any special equipment.
All employees now have the right to ask for flexible working hours if you have worked for your employer for more than 26 weeks (this must be considered by your employer but does not have to be granted).
Carers and parents
Whether you are caring for children, elderly parents or other dependents, you have certain employment rights, including the right to ask for flexible working hours and to take time off in certain circumstances.
The Equality Act 2010 makes it illegal to discriminate carers looking after disabled or elderly people.
Staying in work as you get older
There is no longer any requirement to retire at 65, and you may decide to work beyond state pension age (which itself varies depending on your gender and date of birth), perhaps reducing your hours or exercising your right to ask for flexible working.
The Equality Law 2010 protects older workers against discrimination or unfair treatment based on their age.
ACAS has developed an Age Audit Tool to help you determine if your workplace discriminates against older workers in any way.
If you think you are being discriminated against
If you think your employer is being discriminatory towards you because of your age, health or disability, or because you have caring responsibilities, contact ACAS for advice.