Boston Borough Council – Equality Act 2010
Guidelines in relation to Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Vehicle Drivers – Application for Wheelchair Exemptions
The Equality Act 2010
Section 165 of the Equality Act 2010 places the following duties on drivers of designated wheelchair accessible hackney carriage (taxi) and private hire vehicles:
- To carry the passenger while in the wheelchair;
- Not to make any additional charge for doing so;
- If the passenger chooses to sit in the passenger seat, to carry their wheelchair;
- To take such steps as are necessary to ensure that the passenger is carried in safety and reasonable comfort;
- To give the passenger such mobility assistance as is reasonably required.
“Mobility assistance” is defined in the Act as assistance:
- To enable the passenger to get into or out of the vehicle;
- If the passenger wishes to remain in the wheelchair, to enable to passenger to get into and out of the vehicle while in the wheelchair;
- To load the passenger’s luggage into or out of the vehicle;
- If the passenger does not wish to remain in the wheelchair, to load the wheelchair into or out of the vehicle.
All hackney carriage drivers have an obligation under Section 53 of the Town Police Clauses Act 1847 to carry any person wishing to hire them within the licensing area. This includes persons using wheelchairs. Under the Equality Act 2010, it is now a separate lawful requirement for all drivers of wheelchair accessible taxis or private hire vehicles to carry wheelchair users, unless they are in possession of an exemption certificate issued by the council in accordance with the Act.
A licensed driver who fails to comply with any of the above Equality Act provisions (unless he/she holds a relevant exemption certificate is guilty of an offence and may receive a fine if convicted.
Boston Borough Council
Boston Borough Council is committed to an accessible public transport system in which disabled people can enjoy the same opportunities to travel as other members of society. Taxis and private hire vehicles are a vital link in the accessible transport chain. It is important that people with disabilities who use wheelchairs can have confidence that the taxi they find on a rank, or hail in the street, with accept them and carry them in a wheelchair at no extra charge. The same is true in relation to wheelchair accessible private hire vehicles that they may seek to book in advance.
Medical & Physical Exemptions
Under the terms of Section 166 of the 2010 Act the council may provide an exemption to these wheelchair duties, to drivers who have genuine medical & physical conditions which would which makes it impossible or unreasonably difficult for them to provide the sort of physical assistance which these duties require.
The council is responsible for issuing exemption certificates and needs to be satisfied that it is appropriate to so on medical or physical grounds.
In circumstances where a driver either has a temporary or permanent medical or physical condition preventing the performance of their duty towards disabled passengers the driver may apply for a medical exemption certificate from the council.
However, at the same time drivers are reminded that the authority reserves the right to review the status of a driver’s licence if the medical condition detailed on the exemption application indicates that it may not be appropriate for the individual to continue to hold a driver’s licence with the Authority.
Applications for a long term medical exemption certificate will be determined by officers acting under delegated powers, except where the officers considers it appropriate to refer the matter to a sub-committee of the Regulatory & Appeals Committee for consideration.
In exempting drivers from the duties to assist passengers in wheelchairs the council needs to be satisfied that it is appropriate to do so on medical grounds or because the driver’s physical condition make it impossible or unreasonably difficult for them to comply with their duties.
Sections 169 and 172 of the 2010 Act also allow the council to exempt drivers from the duties to transport assistance dogs if they are satisfied that it is appropriate to do so on medical grounds. These guidelines therefore apply to drivers seeking exemption from carrying assistance dogs on medical grounds.
How to Apply for a Medical Exemption
The council will consider two types of exemption – a temporary exemption or a lifetime exemption. Lifetime exemptions will only be granted in exceptional circumstances.
To apply for a Medical Exemption Certificate, the driver must obtain information from his/her doctor, or a medical practitioner who had access to their medical records, detailing exactly what duties cannot be undertaken and why.
The process undertaken by applicants for an exemption is that they complete an application form and their medical practitioner must also complete a form. Both of these forms are available in related documents below.
The cost of the certification from the doctor must be borne by the applicant.
Temporary Exemption Certificate
Where the doctor indicates that a temporary exemption certificate should be issued for no more than 3 months then the following procedure will apply.
Upon receipt of the application, and where appropriate, the council’s licensing team, acting under delegated powers, will provide a temporary exemption certificate which will cover the driver for a period of up to 3 months.
Upon expiry of the 3 month exemption, the council will deem the driver fit to undertake all duties unless a second application for exemption is received. Upon receipt of a second application the matter normally be determined by officers under delegated powers. However, where considered necessary, the matter will be referred to a sub-committee of the Regulatory & Appeals Committee for determination.
Temporary Exemption Certificate for more than 3 Months
Where the doctor indicates that a temporary exemption certificate for more than 3 months should be issued then the following procedure will apply.
Upon receipt of the application, and where appropriate, the council’s licensing team, acting under delegated powers, will provide a temporary exemption certificate. However, where considered necessary, the matter will be referred to a sub-committee of the Regulatory & Appeals Committee for determination.
Upon expiry of the temporary exemption, the council will deem the driver fit to undertake all duties unless a second application for exemption is received. Upon receipt of a second application the matter normally be determined by officers under delegated powers. However, where considered necessary, the matter will be referred to a sub-committee of the Regulatory & Appeals Committee for determination.
Long Term exemption
Applicants are advised that any long term exemption from the requirement to carry disabled persons will be issued as appropriate.
Where a doctor indicates that a long term exemption certificate should be issued then the following procedure will apply.
Upon receipt of the application, the council’s Licensing team will consider the application and, acting under delegated powers, issue a long term exemption, where appropriate,
A long term exemption will last until the driver is next due a medical. At this time the driver’s doctor must complete a further Wheel Chair Medical Exemption form.
If a driver fails to submit a further application and report from their doctor, their exemption will cease to have effect until a further application and report received and the exemption granted.
Notice of Exemption
Following the grant of an exemption, the driver will be sent a letter informing them of the grant and an official vehicle notice will be issued to them. By law this notice must be put on public view in the vehicle to inform wheelchair users that the driver has an exemption.
In addition this authority will issue a notification that must be carried by the driver.
Occupational Health Provider
Where appropriate the sub-committee may initiate a driver referral to an authorised occupational health provider, the cost of which must be borne by the applicant.
Physical Characteristics of Some Wheelchairs
The council recognises that the physical characteristics of some wheelchairs may prevent access to licensed vehicles.
The council will not normally accept an application that, at the time of submission to the council, was completed more than 2 months ago by the doctor, and will as a consequence require a new application. Any individual holding a temporary exemption will need to submit a new application when applying for an extension to the exemption period.
The council will not accept an application unless it has been completed by a medical practitioner who has full knowledge of the applicant’s medical history.
In summary, hackney carriage and private hire vehicle drivers are not permitted to refuse to carry wheelchair users unless the driver holds a medical exemption certificate, issued by the council, exempting him/her from such duties.