Leader magazineASCL - Association of School and College Leaders

Recognising day-to-day activities

The Disability Discrimination Act defines disability as "a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on his ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities". The question is: what are normal day-to-day activities?

The employment appeals tribunal (EAT) recently found itself trying to adjudicate on this question. The case (Chief Constable of Dumfries and Galloway v Adams) concerned a policeman who was suffering from ME. When on night shifts he found that he was unable to perform various acts such as climbing stairs, driving or changing his clothes. These clearly were day-to-day activities, but they did not affect him during the day. The question was whether these night shift duties were 'day-to-day activities'. The court decided they were.

The case itself is of little interest to schools or colleges, but the distinctions the EAT drew may be. The courts have decided that particular skills required by particular professions, for example the fine skills of jewellers, are not day-to-day activities.

However, things which are common to a number of professions or occupations may be. Night shifts are not specific to policing. They could therefore be seen as day-to-day activities. There may be similar generic demands that affect teachers and lecturers or non-teaching staff which may be caught in the same way. The key point is that aspects of work are 'day-to-day activities', something that is not always recognised.

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