Your employment rights
Dementia is a disability, which means that people with dementia are protected by Irish Equality Law from some kinds of discrimination, in employment and in buying goods and using everyday services.
There are nine categories named in equality law. These are called “the nine grounds”. Disability is one of the nine grounds. Dementia falls within the definition of disability, which means that people with dementia are covered by the equality legislation, if they experience discrimination related to having dementia.
People with dementia in employment are also entitled to “appropriate measures ”to help them carry out their work. This is a very important concept in equality law (in the Equal Status Act it is called “reasonable accommodation”)and can be very useful in relation to employment.
The obligation to take “appropriate measures” means that if you have difficulty carrying out your work because of your disability, the employer must put in place supports or special facilities to help you. For example, in employment, this could include allowing flexible working hours or providing peer support from other colleagues.
There are limits on what employers have to do. The law says that taking appropriate measures cannot place a “disproportionate burden” on an employer. A big employer with more resources is expected to do more than a small employer with fewer sources.
You are not obliged under Equality Law to disclose to your employer that you have dementia, however, if you do not do so, it will be impossiblefor them to explore whether they can make “reasonable accommodation.”
You cannot be dismissed from employment simply because your employer becomes aware you have dementia. Your employer would need to be able to demonstrate that you are unable to do your job, despite options for reasonable accommodation having been explored.
There is a point at which dementia may impact on a person’s ability to do their job to the extent that reasonable accommodation will not be possible. Also, in some types of work, there may be very little that can be done in the way of reasonable accommodation. Not every situation in which a person is treated differently on the basis of having a disability will constitute discrimination.
If you develop dementia while working, you should look for detailed information and advice on your rights.
For information on employment equality rights