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This guide defines disability in an employment context and discusses the law in relation to employer obligations.
Disability is one ground of 13 grounds on which discrimination is prohibited in employment.
For the purposes of unlawful discrimination, disability has the same meaning under the Employment
Relations Act 2000 as it has under the Human Rights Act 1993. A disability may be physical,
psychological, or psychiatric.
The scope of the Human Rights Act 1993, in relation to discrimination in employment, is wider than
the Employment Relations Act 2000.
It is possible, arguably, for an instance of unlawful discrimination in employment to be challenged
in both jurisdictions.
The Human Rights Act 1993 protects against direct, and indirect, unlawful discrimination on the
ground of disability in advertisements for employment, application for employment forms, and
The Employment Relations Act 2000 protects against direct, and indirect, unlawful discrimination
on the ground of disability in employment; an employee may pursue a personal grievance based on
It is unlawful to discriminate in employment against a person on the ground of disability if the
person’s disability can be reasonably accommodated.
An employee is “qualified for work of any description” if that employee is capable of, and in the
case of jobs requiring formal qualifications or training, holds those formal qualifications or has
undergone formal training which the particular work requires.
Considerations of unlawfulness must be applied to all discriminatory actions or decisions that are
taken in respect of employment.
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