This page contains Case Studies with practical examples of reasonable adjustments in action.
Case Study 1
Mohamed identifies as being Deaf and is a British Sign Language user. He has never had a paid job and lacks confidence as he believes employers will never give him a chance. He would like a job where there is some level of interaction with the public and to be able to work in a small team.
- Mohamed applies for a job and ticks a box to disclose a ‘generic’ disability. The employer follows this up by emailing Mohamed to find out what, if anything, is needed.
- The employer agrees an interview date and time with a manager and the manager advises a British Sign Language (BSL) interpreter will be available. They also provide more information about the structure of the interview to help Mohamed to prepare.
- The manager is confident in hiring Mohammed as the right person for the job, but has concerns over their fire safety policy. They agree that the duty manager is to buzz a vibrating pager when the fire alarm activated, which only costs £20 to purchase.
- The manager and Mohamed register with Access to Work for any future support needs, such as BSL interpreters meetings, monthly reviews and training.
Case Study 2
Julie is an admin assistant returning to work after a period of recuperation following a serious car accident, which left her with a permanent spinal injury. She finds walking painful and uses a stick for support. She attends regular physio and occasional pain clinic appointments. Julie also needs to inject herself with pain management medication as and when needed. Her workstation, team and the staff toilet are on the first floor. An accessible customer toilet is available on the ground floor. Julie also has mild epilepsy as a result of the accident, and there are occasions when Julie becomes mentally ‘absent’ for a minute or two.
- A return to work interview – allowing plenty of time to discuss and understand Julie’s support needs.
- A support chair and adjustable desk, this could be funded using Access to Work.
- Epilepsy awareness training for immediate colleagues with Julie’s consent.
- A buddy to assist Julie for the first few weeks of her return.
- A clear instructions sheet for any new processes or procedures.
- Additional/refresher training to ensure any new or existing IT systems are understood.
- Relocate department to be near accessible toilet, swapping office teams (not Julie alone) if possible.
- Adjust staff duties – give tasks such as carrying large objects to other staff members, shifting some of their responsibilities to Julie to balance workloads.
- Paid time off for Physio and Pain Clinic appointments.
Case Study 3
Paul has been an accountant for over 20 years and has been with his current employer for 15 of those. Paul was born with a hearing impairment and wears hearing aids, however, over the past year his hearing has been gradually getting worst. He is fine on a one-to-one basis, but is finding his work environment noisy, as his desk is located within an open plan office. He is struggling in meetings, has started to decline office social invitations and his work is deteriorating. Paul is considering a cochlear implant but is worried about the company sickness policy and reaching a trigger point if he takes too much time off. He is also concerned about any ill-feeling from colleagues if he asks his line manager for changes to be made to alleviate some of the difficulties he is experiencing.
- Carry out a review of Paul’s workstation set-up and move his desk to a quieter area / private office if necessary.
- Establish ground rules at meetings so that people talk one at a time.
- Support Paul to contact Access to Work for an assessment.
- Review the sickness policy to introduce disability trigger points.
- Consider where staff socials are held – is there somewhere quieter?
- Discuss with Paul what he is happy for colleagues to know about any impact that having a cochlear implant may have.
- Deaf awareness training for staff if Paul is happy with this.
- His line manager could maintain an open-door policy and deal with any inappropriate behaviour following the implementation of any reasonable adjustments.
Case Study 4
Muriel works in busy customer service role and has to share admin and telephony duties. She has to deal daily with customers on the phone who are highly distressed. Muriel has a significant long term mental health condition as a result of childhood trauma and experiences anxiety, depression and panic attacks, leading to time off work at short notice. She finds the telephony duties very stressful and that certain calls increase her anxiety and symptoms but is concerned that her colleagues may think she is just trying to avoid telephony work. In addition, loud and unexpected noises, as well as people traffic behind her can trigger her symptoms. Muriel is also a full time carer for her mum, which means that she can tire easily.
- Flexi time/ flexible approach to working in respect of managing the working day and tiredness levels along with caring duties and responsibilities.
- Establish what Muriel is happy for others to know about her condition, its effects and how she would like this information disseminated to others.
- Talk about her triggers to gain a full understanding and talk about the signs of Muriel becoming emotionally unwell.
- Consider reduced telephony duties and increased admin duties.
- An assigned buddy for debriefing following particularly difficult telephone calls.
- A quiet place Muriel could take 5 minutes if needed.
- Move her workstation to minimise noise and people traffic.
- Time off for any appointments.
- Mental health training for the workplace. This could be introduced as part of wider ‘wellbeing at work’ training for staff if Muriel does not wish others to know about her condition.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission provides further examples covering a range of different situations in the workplace – Examples of reasonable adjustments in practice
When thinking about what is meant by ‘reasonable‘, you could consider:
- how effective the change will be in avoiding the disadvantage the disabled worker would otherwise experience
- your organisation’s resources and size
- the availability of financial support.
Your overall aim should be, as far as possible, to remove or reduce any disadvantage faced by a disabled worker. We provide further guidance on this on our information hub page Reasonable Adjustments. Alternatively, the Equality and Human Rights Commission provides more detailed information about what is reasonable and issues to consider – What do we mean by reasonable?
For more detailed information on any aspect of disability and employment, please go to our Information Hub page. Alternatively, you can contact the project team either via our on-line form or call us on 01392 241124.
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