What are Reasonable Adjustments?
Employers are expected to make reasonable adjustments to support individuals who are, or are likely, to be covered under the Equality Act (for disability). This includes making reasonable adjustments for job applicants, contract workers, trainees, apprentices and business partners, so they are not seriously disadvantaged when applying for, or undertaking their job roles.
The Equality Act (EQ) Legislation 2010, prohibits discrimination against people with protected characteristics. Protected characteristics include all the following categories; age, gender, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, race, sexual orientation, pregnancy/maternity, religion/belief and disability.
An individual is considered as having cover under the Equality Act 2010 for disability if they have a physical or mental impairment that has a ‘substantial’ and ‘long-term’ negative effect on their ability to undertake normal daily activities.
It is for a court to decide if an individual is covered under the Equality Act, although most individuals do not want to have to go to court for such an assessment and most employers are therefore likely to ask for advice from their occupational health service, in order that they offer appropriate support where it is needed.
The duty to make reasonable adjustments only applies when the employer either knows or can reasonably be expected to know that an employee (or applicant) has a disability. If an individual is experiencing a health difficulty, they are encouraged to request support from the employer and if necessary ask for an occupational health referral.
While occupational health can offer advice, what is reasonable is a business decision and depends on the size and nature of the business and impact of the adjustment in terms of the following:
- Cost: The more money and resources an organisation has the more reasonable it will be to spend money on an adjustment. Sometimes the cost can benefit others in the organisation too.
- Practicality: Adjustments are only reasonable if they are practical; Lower expectations of output should not mean accepting lower quality of work standards, redeployment might be required.
- Effectiveness: The adjustment must remove the disadvantage and this may need professional guidance.
- Disruption: Adjustments will need to be viewed in terms of the level of disruption that might be caused to the department / team / organisation or other individuals.
- Effects on others: Attitudes of the organisation, department and the team as well as individual management style will affect the outcomes in terms of effects of adaptations on others.
- Health & safety: Adjustments are not reasonable if they pose an unacceptable health & safety risk to anyone in the organisation. Risk assessments will be required. Advice should be sought. Ultimately it is a management decision.
- Valuable skills: Trying to retain experience, specialised skills and knowledge are important and long service might make it more reasonable to consider further adjustments, to retain valued staff.
- Availability of external sources of help: It is important to take into account advice and support available from external agencies such as Access to Work and various charitable agencies.
For further support in relation to reasonable Adjustments, contact Occua.
Useful information about Reasonable Adjustments
Employers Forum on Disability efd.org.uk
Access to Work: https://www.gov.uk/access-to-work/overview