Is an employer under a duty to dismiss an employee whose disability makes him or her particularly susceptible to the risk of harm?

Where as a result of a disability, an employee is particularly susceptible to the risk of harm when carrying out his or her role, the employer must assess the nature and extent of the risk, taking into account the capabilities of the individual employee. It must put in place all preventive and protective measures required under health and safety law, and make any reasonable adjustments as required under the Equality Act 2010. The employer should consult with the employee and have regard to medical evidence when considering adjustments to the role and any alternative work that may be suitable.

In Coxall v Goodyear Great Britain Ltd [2002] IRLR 742 CA, the Court of Appeal held that there will be some situations where the employer will be under a duty to dismiss an employee, regardless of his or her own wishes, to protect him or her from injury. Whether or not that duty arises depends on the nature and extent of the risk to the employee's health.

An employer shoud dismiss an employee in these circumstances only as a last resort, where there is still an unacceptable risk of harm after any adjustments have been made, and where there is no suitable alternative work for the employee.