A reasonable adjustment is something that can help prevent or reduce any disadvantage being faced by a disabled person. Reasonable adjustments allow people with disabilities equality of opportunity in the workplace.
As an employer, you have a duty to take steps to remove, reduce or prevent obstacles a disabled employee or job applicant may face, where it is reasonable to do so. However, this does not always mean that you have to spend a lot of money.
Reasonable adjustments can be simple, and are often nil or low cost to implement. Your first key action is to discuss with your employee what will help remove or minimise any disadvantage they are experiencing.
It is important to remember:
- Not all adjustments relate to the physical working environment, such as wheelchair ramps.
- Other adjustments can be less tangible but just as important, such as changing work hours or increasing one-to-one supervision.
- Workplace adjustments can be made for anyone, not just employees with a disability or health condition – for example, changing the working hours of someone who has caring responsibilities.
- Making your workplace accessible could have wider cost benefits, such as better access for customers too.
What is reasonable will depend on the size of your organisation and the adjustment that needs to be put in place. If you are a small business, for example, the cost of taxis to and from work each day for a member of staff who cannot use public transport, may not be reasonable. However, the Access to Work scheme could help with this.
Examples of Reasonable Adjustments
It is not possible to list all potential reasonable adjustments, but the following may be helpful to think about the types of changes an employee might need in terms of:
- Flexibility around breaks, start and finish times or shift patterns
- Reduced working hours
- Additional training time or a longer probationary period
- Allowing time out for hospital or medical appointments
- Provide training or retraining
- Making information and training materials easier to access and understand
- Matching duties to an individual’s strengths and abilities
- Swapping minor duties with another worker
- Changing work targets or changing the way work is assigned
- Transferring to alternative suitable employment if someone’s disability worsens
- Additional support and supervision from managers
- Providing a co-worker buddy or mentor support
- Disability awareness training to co-workers
- Reader or interpreter support
- Other support programmes such as Supported Internships [awaiting link]
- Transfer to a more suitable or closer work location
- Working from home
- Making changes to the building including toilets and meeting spaces
- Providing aids and equipment, or specialist computer software
- Setting up a quiet room for employees to go when they feel particularly anxious or stressed, or if they experience fatigue
- Providing a nearby parking space
Policy and Practice
- Reviewing how policies are working for people with disabilities
- Important policies might include: Recruitment and Selection, Attendance, Grievance / Disciplinary
- Training and promotion
- Changing policies that have a negative impact on disabled employees
- Creating a Disability Access Plan which will benefit staff and customers. This can be worked through within a reasonable time frame and include some ambitious targets where possible
For practical examples, we also have Case Studies on an information hub page – ‘Reasonable Adjustments in Practice’.
For more details of an employer’s legal duty under the Equality Act (2010), please see our information hub page Equality Act (2010) – Employer’s Duty to make Reasonable Adjustments
For further reading please visit these external information sites:
- Remploy – Why are workplace adjustments important
- Equality and Human Rights Commission – Reasonable Adjustments in Practice
- ACAS – Reasonable Adjustments in the Workplace
- Devon County Council – Diversity Guide – Disability
- Disability Confident – Recruiting, managing and developing people with a disability or health condition
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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