Springhouse Solicitors

Wheelchair on bus case: employment law significance

You will all be aware of the Supreme Court telling FirstGroup Plc that it must instruct its drivers to “require and pressurise” bus users who are blocking spaces allocated to wheelchair users to move out of the way.

The Supreme Court said that this would be a reasonable adjustment for wheelchair users in this case, even though there was a potential conflict of rights between the pram user and the wheelchair user.

Bus drivers should now go as far as they feel is reasonable to insist a space is vacated, for instance by stopping the bus to talk to the non-wheelchair user.

Implications

The implications of this case from an employment law perspective go beyond the immediate effect on transport companies and other public-facing businesses who offer facilities to wheelchair users.

Employers should now realise that their policies relating to disabled employees as well as disabled customers need to ensure that employees are proactive in ensuring that any physical reasonable adjustments that have been put into place remain accessible.

Examples might include the blocking of facilities, or the use of them for other reasons (for instance designated PCs, lifts or toilet facilities).

In essence, it is the degree of pro-activity rather than simply putting facilities in place that is now highlighted.