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Firefighters and the DDA – What does it mean for The Fire and Rescue Service?. By Michelle Valentine, Practice Development Officer. Our overall goal ‘A society where all disabled people can participate fully as equal citizens’. What we are

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firefighters and the dda what does it mean for the fire and rescue service

Firefighters and the DDA – What does it mean for The Fire and Rescue Service?

By Michelle Valentine, Practice Development Officer

slide2

Our overall goal

‘A society where all disabled people can participate fully as equal citizens’

slide3

What we are

  • The DRC was set up in April 2000 as enforcement body for the DDA
  • We are independent
  • Offices in Manchester, Cardiff, Edinburgh and London – 200 staff many are disabled people
  • We aim to work in partnership with small and large businesses, public sector and voluntary organisations
  • We want to win hearts and minds, not just court cases
why is the dda being applied to firefighters
Why is the DDA being applied to firefighters?
  • EU Framework Equality Directive – Government extension of DDA to comply
  • Extended DDA to cover firefighters, police officers and prison officers from 1st October 2004
  • Armed Forces will continue to be exempt
  • Acts of discrimination before 1st October 2004 will NOT be covered
what is the drc doing to help
What is the DRC doing to help?
  • DRC has developed a ‘self help’ guide for FBU reps
  • DRC has advised ODPM on policy issues
  • DRC worked with Fire Service Managers to develop specific guidance and case studies video/DVD
dda part i
DDA Part I

Definition of Disability

“a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial, long term, adverse effect on ability to carry out normal day to day activities”

dda part i continued
DDA Part I – Continued

Covers: HIV infection

Cancer

Multiple Sclerosis

(from Dec 05 from point of diagnosis)

people with severe disfigurements

people who have had a disability in the past even if they have recovered

dda part i continued1
DDA Part I – Continued

How to decide if someone is disabled:

  • Must use the definition in the Act:
    • Substantial (more than minor or trivial)
    • Long-term (at least 12 months)
    • Adverse
  • Must look at person without help of medication, mobility aids etc (except glasses)
  • Must use a ‘social model’ of disability
part ii what is discrimination
Part II What is Discrimination?

2 Main Types of Discrimination:

  • Direct Discrimination
  • Failure to make reasonable adjustments

Justification not possible in either case

Also unlawful:

disability related discrimination

harassment

victimisation

part ii reasonable adjustments
Changing a policy, procedure or practice that could discriminate against a disabled person

Making adjustments to employment arrangements for disabled people

Removing physical barriers to access for disabled people

Part II Reasonable Adjustments
how do i decide what is reasonable
How do I decide what is reasonable?
  • How effective is an adjustment going to be?
  • What resources are available to me (financial, staff, expertise)?
  • How practical is it?
how do i decide what is reasonable cont
How do I decide what is reasonable? - cont.
  • Take advice
  • Record how you make decisions
  • The decision about what is reasonable rests with the employer or the service provider NOT the disabled person
recruitment what to do medical issues
Recruitment – What to do – Medical Issues

Some disabled people won’t be suitable because of medical issues BUT:

  • Don’t make generalised assumptions
  • Make ‘rounded’ decisions, not JUST medical evidence
  • Consult the disabled applicant
  • Don’t informally operate blanket bans
recruitment what to do poest s
Recruitment – What to do – POEST’s

You set standards BUT:

  • They must fairly reflect the requirements of the job
  • You must have provision for making reasonable adjustments to the tests
  • Test centres must be aware of their DDA duties
retention

Retention

The DDA requires you to make every effort to make reasonable adjustments to enable you to retain staff who become disabled.

The incidence of disability increases with age – also higher in the Fire Service due to type of work

retention the issues

Retention – The Issues

Keeping firefighters operational

Sickness absence

Redeployment

Pensions/ill health retirement

retention keeping firefighters operational

Retention – Keeping Firefighters Operational

This should be your first aim

Consider:

what are the risks?

what adjustments can I make?

How do I monitor the situation?

retention sickness absence barriers

Retention – Sickness absence - Barriers

Lack of management will to accommodate disabled firefighter on their team

Failure to understand barriers and solutions and a concentration on the medical aspects of disability

Fear of litigation, leading to lack of contact from or with the disabled firefighter

Assumption that someone cannot return until they are 'fully fit for duty'

retention redeployment

Retention – Redeployment

New definition of firefighter allows greater creativity in re-deployment

Consider posts that are commensurate with skills and experience

Can you pay them less – it depends!

Keep them in the pension scheme if possible

retention pensions ill health retirement

Retention – Pensions/ill health retirement

The amendments to the Firefighter's Pension Scheme allow the Fire Service to comply with its duties under the DDA.

DDA duties take primacy over the Pension Scheme regulations.

Managers of the Pension Scheme and Fire Service managers need to fully understand the DDA and the duties it imposes upon them (refer to Section 10 of the DRC’s Statutory Code of Practice on Employment and Occupation).

case scenario 1
Case Scenario 1

Routine health check identified mild asthama

Line Manager says its not safe for firefighter to wear BA as this may make condition worse

Firefighter want to stay operational

case scenario 2
Case Scenario 2

Firefighter with HIV

Told she cannot work at RTA’s because of cross-contamination risk

Barrier protection – works both ways!

specific issues for the fire service
Specific Issues for the Fire Service
  • Need to understand health and safety and risk assessment issues to avoid discrimination
  • Need to adopt creative thinking and ‘can do’ approach
  • Need to ensure service does not get bogged down in ‘process’
  • Need to treat people as individuals
slide24

What we can offer you

Our FREE Helpline

Telephone 08457 622633

Textphone 08457 622644

Website - www.drc-gb.org

Monthly Email bulletin – subscribe via our website

DRC website - www.drc-gb.org