What are reasonable adjustments?

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Health Assured team

14 May 2019

These are alterations within the workplace to remove or reduce limitations for disabled employees.

The Equality Act of 2010 defines a disabled person as someone with a mental or physical injury. The impairment has a long-term effect on their ability to carry out day-to-day activities.

This post explores reasonable adjustments at work and what happens if you fail to make these changes for your disabled employees.


What is a reasonable adjustment?

It relates to your duty of care to all of your employees, able-bodied or not.

Reasonable adjustments under the Equality Act 2010 require action from the employer to reduce or eliminate the disadvantages that a disabled employee may face because of their disability.


Reasonable adjustments examples

Depending on the particular impairment of your employee, alterations might differ.

The point of making these amendments is to put your disabled staff members on an equal footing with their colleagues.

But remember, affected employees may be wondering, “What reasonable adjustments can I ask for?” Depending on the disability, changes may vary.

Examples of reasonable adjustments for disability include:

  • Changes to premises. Expanding doorways, providing a ramp, parking spot, relocating shelves, door handles, furniture etc.
  • Flexible working for employees with regular hospital appointments or rehabilitation.
  • An ergonomic chair for workers with back problems.
  • Offering alternative positions within the organisation.
  • Providing specialist equipment: ergonomic keyboards for employees with arthritis, compatible telephones for those with hearing impairments etc.

Examples of reasonable adjustments for mental health include:

  • Allowing staff with a social anxiety disorder to work in isolation.
  • Offering clear and consistent instructions.
  • Offering work from home options.
  • Reducing workload.

It’s worth noting it’s a good idea to consider these adjustments in the recruitment process. Disabled candidates should have the same chances to be considered for a job as anybody else.

According to Acas’ reasonable adjustments guide, you must also make changes to the recruitment process if:

  • The applicant noted a disability in their application.
  • If you become aware of a disability.
  • Or if they ask for it.

After the application process, if you’re offering the disabled candidate the position, you should ask what adjustments will be needed.


Failure to make reasonable adjustments

Changes to duties, equipment or the workplace are a legal requirement for employers with disabled employees.

Failing to make them means you’ll be opening yourself up to disability discrimination claims.

Staff members that feel you’re not meeting your obligations can bring a claim of discrimination to an employment tribunal.


Proving disability and reasonable adjustments

How can an employee confirm their medical condition? The best possible option is for them to request evidence from their doctor.

While the Equality Act 2010 protects employees against discrimination, they may be expected to prove their impairment meets the legal definition of a disability.

However, it may be difficult to prove neurological conditions like depression, RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury) or even ME (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis). We discuss what qualifies as a disability further in a previous article.


Need our help?

If you’d like to find out more information on any of the topics mentioned in this article, please contact Health Assured on 0844 892 2493.

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