The European Equality and Human Rights Commission has released new guidance on the legal responsibility UK retailers have to disabled customers.
It explains how retailers must not discriminate against any customers using their service either in-store or online.
This legal requirement still applies during the coronavirus pandemic, when many retailers will be adapting how they deliver their services due to social distancing and online delivery slot pressures.
This guide is a reminder of:
- legal responsibilities to customers to make sure you are not discriminating
- obligations to provide reasonable adjustments for disabled customers
Four steps to ensure you are making reasonable adjustments
Step 1. Provide a service that meets all customer needs
Be aware that the law protects customers from direct and indirect discrimination. You must make adjustments for disabled people to use your service, where reasonable.
Step 2. Plan ahead for your customer needs
You must anticipate and prepare in advance to meet the needs of disabled customers. Consider and make changes to your store’s policies, procedures and physical environment.
Step 3. Communicate with your customers
Tell them about the support available through different forms of communication. Ask them if they need extra support and keep in mind that some customers may need you to remove your face mask if they lip read.
Step 4. Provide staff training
Show staff how to help customers shop safely while social distancing and ensure they can support customers with a range of impairments, including less visible disabilities.
Explain government guidelines on face coverings to make sure they don’t discriminate against disabled people.
Why this is important
If you make decisions that discriminate against customers with protected characteristics, such as older or disabled customers, you may be at risk of:
- having a claim brought against you
- costly compensation fees
- reputational damage
Following equality law helps you as a retailer to contribute to a fairer society where everyone is valued and has the same access to services.
Good retailers not only understand the ethical case for providing reasonable adjustments, but they also know that it brings financial rewards by expanding their customer base.
You may think that your service is fully compliant with the law and that you already provide reasonable adjustments for disabled customers, but check these four steps to make sure your organisation isn’t at risk of breaking the law by not following the Equality Act.