Saad v University Hospital Southampton: is anxiety and depression a disability?

Saad v University Hospital Southampton: is anxiety and depression a disability?

Employment Law solicitor, Nathalie Stewart, revisits the decision in Saad v University Hospital and explains what this ruling means for employers.

The background

The employee in this case, Mr Saad, was a registrar working under fixed-term contracts. His last fixed-term contract was not renewed. He argued this was because of his depression and anxiety.

Mr Saad said his condition amounted to a disability, and that he’d been discriminated against as this condition was connected to, or caused, the non-renewal of the contract.

The ruling

The Employment Tribunal agreed that Mr Saad did have anxiety and depression. But it argued that it was not substantial, nor did it have long term adverse effects. All are necessary for a finding of a disability. They concluded there was no disability, so no discrimination.

Mr Saad appealed to the EAT.

He argued the ET did not consider, when determining whether his condition was substantial, specific work-based issues like communication with his colleagues, ability to concentrate and his ability to attend work.

In respect of whether his condition was long term, he said the ET did not take into account fluctuations in his condition. The EAT confirmed the ET did take into account both and the decision stood.

What this means for you

Employers may assume that anxiety, depression or other mental illnesses in the workplace amount to a disability. But this case highlights that conditions like these are measured on a spectrum and are based on all day-to-day activities, not just work.

In this case, the Tribunal decided the employee wasn’t disabled. Because, although he’d been on sick for over a year, he was able to socialise, go abroad, apply for jobs, deal with all household tasks and, very pertinently, deal with the Employment Tribunal proceedings at hand.

A medical report was also produced for the employee in this case. His score on memory was worse than dementia patients who need 24-hour care. So this lack of credibility on the part of the employee only reinforced the Tribunal’s decision.

Need advice? We can help you

Please call Nathalie Stewart on 01482 324252.

Or email nls@gosschalks.co.uk.

You can find out more about our Employment Law services here.

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