Did you know that thyroid problems can be regarded as disabilities?

on Tue 14 Jun


The Equality Act 2010 sets out the circumstances in which a person is defined as "disabled". It says someone is disabled if they have:


"a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long term negative

effect on your ability to do normal daily activities"





By substantial they mean more than minor or trivial.  For example it takes much longer than it usually would to complete a daily task

By long term it means that it has lasted for 12 months or is likely to last for more than 12 months or for the rest of their life


To be clear then it is not the thyroid problems themselves that count but how the condition affects you at work.


As lethargy and listlessness are often two symptoms connected with hypothyroidism it is understandable that some employers may suspect you are malingering so if you are experiencing this or other symptoms described here 


At any short term sickness absence reviews your manager may ask the following:

  • Do you think your attendance problem is related to your condition?
  • Are you fully compliant with your medication?
  • Do you fully understand what your condition is about?
  • Would you like to have a chat with an occupational health consultant?

Ultimately treatment should mitigate any symptoms but until your dosage is correct – and this can take a while - hypothyroidism can cause difficulties like extreme tiredness, memory problems and concentration challenges. As a consequence you may now struggle with analysis of figures; with handling large amounts of paperwork; with doing night shifts; with undertaking a lot of driving and so forth.


Thyroid hormone replacement is life-long and  falls within the definition of the Equality Act 2010 as without thyroid hormone replacement the hypothyroidism is likely to recur. Hypothyroidism can be adequately replaced in the long term with Levothyroxine and hormone replacement is not associated with any significant increased morbidity or mortality provided that a therapeutic target is reached. Without thyroid hormone replacement the impact of the disability would substantially limit his ability to carry out normal day to day activities. However, adequate treatment should prevent any symptoms related to the disability from this point onwards.


Under the Act your employer must take steps to activate their duty and give serious consideration to your individual needs as a disabled person. They must also make reasonable adjustments to the way in which you are employed in order to accommodate those needs.


This is just one area where I am occasionally involved in medico-legal consultation


For full guidance on the Equality Act 2010 (which took over from the Disability Act 2005) click here



Although every effort is made to ensure that all health advice on this website is accurate and up to date it is for information purposes and should not replace a visit to your doctor or health care professional.

 As the advice is general in nature rather than specific to individuals Dr Vanderpump cannot accept any liability for actions arising from its use nor can he be held responsible for the content of any pages referenced by an external link


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