Deemed Disabilities

The statutory definition of disability is well known: a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term effect on a person’s ability to carry out normal day to day activities.

Employers sometimes overlook that there are four conditions which do not require an employee to meet that statutory definition. People who suffer from the following are automatically deemed to be disabled under the Act:

  • blindness or partial sight;

  • HIV;

  • multiple sclerosis; and

  • cancer.

The case of Lofty v Hamis t/a First Café (EAT, 18.1.18 0177/17) has found that, in the case of cancer, a deemed disability extends to a pre-cancerous growth. The case involved a café assistant who became aware of a blemish on her cheek. Following a biopsy, her consultant dermatologist told her that she had lentigo maligna, describing this as a ‘pre-cancerous lesion which could result in lesion malignant melanoma (skin cancer)’. The EAT held this was a deemed disability for the purposes of the Act.

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