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Attendance rewards may lead to discrimination

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Last week the Royal Mail launched a new incentive scheme rewarding workers for attendance but, say law firm Martineau Johnson schemes such as these might give rise to disability discrimination claims.

The scheme which was introduced in an attempt to combat rising absenteeism levels gives Royal Mail staff with exemplary attendance records the chance of winning one of 12 weekend breaks or a Ford Focus worth £12,000.

Referring to the two-pronged approach taken by employers, either to withhold sick pay for the first few days of illness or introduce financial incentives to reward attendance, Jane Byford, employment partner at Martineau Johnson said:

“Whilst in essence these actions may seem reasonable for the majority of employees, employers are failing to recognise the needs of disabled employees in their workforce and those who have been absent due to long-term illness.

“Employees who are disabled may need to take time off intermittently due to their disability and some employees absent on long-term illness may also be classed as disabled. These employees may be unable to participate in any incentive scheme or may lose sick pay entitlement due to their absence for a disability related reason.”

Royal Mail says it is simply admitting its failings and tackling attendance head-on. Speaking to HRZone, a spokesperson refuted claims that the new attendance initiative is discriminatory by saying: “Any employee who is absent due to a disability during the draw period (2 Aug – 31 Jan 2005) will not be excluded from the prize draw as any such absence is discounted.”

For the full story and further comments see: First class service for Royal Mail staff

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Annie Hayes

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Read more from Annie Hayes
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