Mental Health Training

Definition of disability – an explanation of the terms, By Pers Ltd

Posted by on 29 Apr, 2016 in Mental Health | 0 comments

Definition of disability – an explanation of the terms, By Pers Ltd

Disability is defined in the Equality Act 2010 as ‘a physical or mental impairment’ that has a ‘substantial’ and ‘long-term’ adverse effect on your ability to do ‘normal daily activities.’ In this blog, we explain what these terms mean.


‘Substantial’ means more than minor or trivial. An example would be taking longer to complete a daily task such as washing, dressing or eating. For more information and examples of ‘substantial’ see this CAB website.

This website also gives instances of related and progressive conditions that would meet the definition. Further, it advises that treated conditions may still be considered a disability if without the treatment the condition would likely have a substantial adverse affect.

‘Long term’

Long term means the adverse effect

  • has lasted 12 months
  • is likely to last for 12 months or more
  • is likely to last for the rest of your life (if that is less that 12 months)

Adverse effect

Adverse means negative and this can be interpreted broadly.

‘Normal day to day activities’

Normal day to day activities are ordinary tasks carried out by ordinary people every day such as:

  • washing, brushing your teeth
  • dressing, changing your clothes
  • eating, drinking
  • walking, driving
  • reading, writing
  • concentrating, recall from memory

In a recent case, the Employment Appeal Tribunal ruled that ‘lifting and moving goods…up to 25kg’ was a normal day to day activity as ‘no-one with any knowledge of modern UK working life could doubt that large numbers of people are employed to lift and move cases of up to 25kg across a range of occupations’. Consequently an employee who could not do this after sustaining a back injury was disabled.

Meaning for Employers

This ruling means ‘normal day to day activities’  will include work related tasks common to a number of occupations.

Disabilty discrimination

The Equality Act covers a wide range of workers and self employed people, none of whom should suffer a detriment because of their disability. A detriment could be anything from being given worse employment conditions, such as lower wages or fewer hours, than those offered to a non disabled person.


In a recent case an ex Newcastle United football player claimed he suffered a detriment as he was not picked for the team. This meant he could not meet his quota of games that would secure another year’s contract. He further claimed that not being picked occurred after his diagnosis of cancer and hence was linnked to that diagnosis. (Cancer is a progressive condition that meets the definition of disability).

Playing professional football is not ‘a normal day to day activity’, but being picked for team could be. Watch this blog for news of the Tribunal’s verdict and other high profile employment cases as we hear them.

Mind Matters gives thanks to Pers Ltd for providing the above article.

Leave a Comment