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Does manual lifting fall within the definition of “day to day activities” for the purpose of defining disability?

February 4, 2016

Under the Equality Act, a person has a disability if they have “a physical or mental impairment, and the impairment has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on his ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities".


The Claimant, a picker in a distribution centre, had been found not to be disabled at a preliminary hearing. The Employment Judge, having accepted medical evidence regarding the Claimant's long-term back condition, considered that it did not have a substantial adverse effect on his carrying out 'normal day-to-day activities' as its impact was limited to manual lifting of items of up to 25kg at work, which the Employment Judge regarded as not being a 'normal day-to-day' activity.

The EAT disagreed, noting that the scope of 'normal day-to-day activities' extended to warehouse work (and work generally). So, on the evidence accepted by the employment tribunal, the only conclusion was that the Claimant was a disabled person.

The EAT cautioned against regarding a work rate, such as a warehouse 'pick rate', as an impaired activity, e.g. a target of moving 210 cases per hour, but rather to look at the impairment of the activity itself, e.g. the lifting and moving of cases.

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