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Driving licence job requirement leads to discrimination?

Reasons to choose Wilson Browne

Employers need to be aware of their employees’ rights, or risk falling foul of discrimination legislation.

Unlike other claims an employee can bring, discrimination has no requirement in relation to length of employment. However, discrimination is not only limited to employees, it also extends to applicants.

In a recent employment tribunal, an employee brought a claim against HMRC following his unsuccessful application for a job, due to him being unable to drive – the employee-applicant had received an order not to drive from the DVLA each year, since 2018, following a fainting episode he’d reported to them.

The employee-applicant was already working for HMRC in another role, where his inability to drive had been easily overcome. And so, with HMRC beginning to recruit caseworkers at a higher grade, he submitted his application.

Additionally, an important side note is that HMRC had even cited their obligations to make reasonable adjustments, should a person with disabilities be put at a significant disadvantage.

Following the unsuccessful notification, the employee-applicant was informed that the reason he had not been successful was due to him not having a driving licence.

He subsequently raised a grievance and eventually an employment tribunal claim, on the basis of disability discrimination.

The tribunal found in favour of the employee-applicant, stating that HMRC had “failed in its obligation to make reasonable adjustments”.

Consequently, HMRC was ordered to pay £11,108.49 for financial loss; as well as £9,071.34 for injury to feelings – both figures including interest.

Drive-aways for you to consider

There are obvious examples of when a driving licence as a job requirement will not be discriminatory, and even in the not-so-obvious examples, the inclusion will not, of itself, be discriminatory either.

However, when assessing the need for such requirements, always consider: is this putting an applicant or employee at a significant disadvantage? And, what are the reasonable adjustments we can make?

To be safe, it is always advisable to seek legal advice whenever such a matter arises. Although this can add costs, to a sometimes costly recruitment process, consider that the potential downside can be in the realm of the figures set out above, if not more.

For an initial no-obligation discussion concerning any legal employment issues or concerns facing your business or company, please call 0800 088 6004.

Jennie Jahina


Jennie Jahina


Jennie is a Partner and Head of the Employment team.  A member of the Employment Lawyers Association, Jennie has 21 years’ experience and is an accredited CEDR Mediator. She acts for private sector organisations ranging from SMEs to multi-national companies and public sector organisations.