What is a reasonable adjustment? ACAS defines a ‘reasonable adjustment‘ as a change to remove or reduce the effect of
- an employee’s disability so they can do their job
- a job applicant’s disability when applying for a job.
The reasonable adjustment could be to:
- the place of work
- the way the employee does things
- providing other assistance to an employee or job applicant
When should an employer consider reasonable adjustments?
You must consider making reasonable adjustments when:
- you know, or could be expected to know, an employee or job applicant has a disability.
- an employee or job applicant with a disability asks you for adjustments. You can’t know about a disability if the employee or job applicant hasn’t told you about it
- you identify that an employee with a disability is having difficulty with any part of their job
- an employee’s absence record, sickness record or delay in returning to work is because of or linked to their disability
You must make the changes if they’re reasonable.
You need to consider reasonable adjustments for anything linked to an employee’s disability. If you don’t, an employee might make accusations of disability discrimination. For example, if you don’t allow an assistance dog in the building with a person who uses one, that person might make accusations that you are discriminating against them.
What is reasonable ?
People ask this question a lot. What’s ‘reasonable’ will depend on each situation. Every situation and every person is different. You must consider carefully if the adjustment:
- will remove or reduce the disadvantage for the person with the disability
- is practical to make
- is affordable by the employer or business
- could harm the health and safety of others
What the employer can consider changing?
You must look at what you can do to reduce or remove the disadvantage for the person with a disability and think about how reasonable these measures would be. We’ve given some examples below
- changing work patterns, days of the week worked, or hours worked
- removing something from the workplace such as changing the lights above an employee’s workstation
- providing something in the workplace such as an accessible car parking space, a different chair or other specialised equipment
- getting someone in to help, for example a sign-language interpreter
Employers aren’t necessarily experts in what adjustments someone with a disability or health condition needs. There is help out there. Firstly, our advice is to speak to the employee themselves because they know their own situation and what challenges them in the workplace. You can refer the employee for an occupational health assessment or ask them to approach the team at Access To Work . Access To Work offer the employee support based on their needs. This may include a grant for the employer to help cover the costs of practical support in the workplace.
The kinds of things an Access to Work grant can pay for are:
- special equipment, adaptations or support worker services to help an employee do things like answer the phone or go to meetings
- help getting to and from work
Good practice for employers
Try to focus on the reasonable adjustments that you can make, rather than trying to work out if an employee’s condition is a disability. There’s useful advice at the Business Disability Forum.
Keeping a record of reasonable adjustments
When you’re making a reasonable adjustment for an employee, setting up an up-to-date record that identifies what adjustments is a good idea. Make a note about what adjustments
- you have considered
- you have considered and decided that they weren’t reasonable and why
- were implemented or not and any timescale for review
You don’t have to make adjustments that are unreasonable, but you should still try to find other ways to support the employee.
Who covers the costs ?
The employer is responsible for paying for any reasonable adjustments and cost is one consideration in deciding how reasonable an adjustment is. It’s generally accepted that a small company might not be able to afford the same level of adjustments as a big company because of the difference in resources available,
What to do next?
If you’d like to discuss your obligation to provide reasonable adjustments in the workplace, give us a call now on 01706 565332 or contact us .We can help you think through the best way forward.
Metis HR is a professional HR Consultancy based in the North West of England supporting clients across the country. We specialise in providing outsourced HR services to small and medium-sized businesses. Call us now on 01706 565332 to discuss how we may help you.