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A recent tribunal decision has shown that hot-desking policies need to be carefully drafted and implemented to avoid discrimination claims.


An employee required a specialist chair, desk and equipment whilst working due to a disability. On that basis, occupational health recommended that her desk should be her own and not used as a hot desk. Desk space was at a premium so the employer decided to allow anyone to sit at the desk (and in doing so disrupting her specialist equipment). The tribunal held that the employee had been put at a substantial disadvantage by the hot-desking policy and she was successful in her claim for disability discrimination.

Practical takeaways

Reasonable adjustments – don’t forget that disabled employees put at a substantial disadvantage by a policy have the right to reasonable adjustments under the Equality Act 2010. The law is complicated so take early advice.

Practice into policy – clearly, this case doesn’t mean the end for hot-desking but it’s a reminder that people trends need a robust review before turning into policy.

Inclusive policies – one-size-fits-all policies without mechanisms for review and flexibility can often lead to disadvantages being suffered by those with protected characteristics and subsequent discrimination claims.

We’re adding a new ‘hot-desking’ policy to our Intelligent Employment platform this week! Find out more about accessing Intelligent Employment. 


This update is accurate on the date it was sent (10 May 2022), but may be subject to change which may or may not be notified to you. This update is not to be taken as advice and you should seek advice if anything contained within affects you or your business.

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