Just say, for example, that you are an employer in the transport industry. And let's presume, just for discussion, that one of your regional managers has recently taken on a driver who has been doing an acceptable job for the past month.
The employee has all the relevant documents, of which you have, of course, taken copies, but on closer inspection you notice that their name is spelled very slightly differently on their driving licence as opposed to their passport.
You call the employee and ask them which is the correct spelling but they stammer that they don't know.
That's when you realise that they can't read. At all. Not even their own name.
In this entirely fictional, and in no way real (at all, honest) situation, personally I would be wondering how they passed the DVLA theory test in the first place if the paper would obviously appear to them about as understandable as a random sprinkling of iron filings on a white background.
On further investigation, you find out that, despite the inherent need for a driver to understand road signs etc, one doesn't actually have to be able to read the English language to pass the test.
We are committed to equal opportunities for all. We provide a number of facilities for candidates with special needs.
Please let us know about the following.
If you are dyslexic or have reading difficulties and need:an audio version of the test in English; or
extra time to take the multiple-choice part of the test.
If you do not read or understand English and need:an audio version of the test in one of 20 languages, or you want to take your test in your first language;
This would assuage your concern that someone else had taken the test in place of your employee, although you would be curious as to how they passed the vision part of their practical exam, not understanding the alphabet and all that.
Perhaps you would now be reassured that your responsibility as an employer has been satisfied by your making sure their documents were in order. However, you might still be mildly worried as to the potential consequences to you, personally, should your driver cause a fatal accident which could be attributed to their lack of understanding of a written road sign.
Since you know, and your employee knows that you know, that they are illiterate, how would this affect you should you be pursued for a lack of care under the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007?
The Act introduces a new offence for prosecuting companies and other organisations for gross failures in the management of health and safety with fatal consequences.
Can you just shift the blame onto the DVLA for passing the driver fit to get behind the wheel? Are you, as an employer, required to provide training (reading lessons) under health and safety law? Or would you just think, "sod this for a game of marbles, I can't take the risk", and let them go?
It may be the safest option. But what if your driver takes umbrage, considers that their possession of a driving licence is enough, and sues for unfair dismissal.
The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) prohibits discrimination against disabled people in employment.
Employers must not discriminate against a disabled person inthe recruitment and retention of employees,
promotion and transfers,
training and development,
the dismissal process
Severe dyslexia is covered under the law.
Dyslexia does not always affect a person's ability to carry out normal day to day activities.
Considering that, at an employment tribunal, the onus is on the employer to prove their innocence, a claim of discrimination on the grounds of severe dyslexia would likely be accepted by the tribunal service and result in your having to defend yourself with all the entailing cost and disruption to your business.
Pick the bones out of that, then
Well, it could happen. Who'd be an employer in our health and safety, diversity, and equality centric world, eh?