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Friday, 24 May 2024 12:42

Reasonable Adjustments

We give a lot of advice that concerns supporting employees with their health, including mental health, and longer term illnesses that can be classed as a disabilities. This type of advice regularly includes a recommendation to make reasonable adjustments. With the Government agenda to get more inactive people back into the workforce, we have prepared some clarity over what reasonable adjustments actually means.

Reasonable adjustments are a fundamental aspect of creating an inclusive and supportive workplace. For HR professionals and business owners, understanding the nuances of reasonable adjustments is crucial to ensuring compliance with the Equality Act 2010, but moreover, it enables organisations to foster an environment where all employees can thrive and makes a wider talent pool more accessible.

Reasonable adjustments are changes or adaptations made to eliminate or reduce disadvantages experienced by employees with disabilities, or with an illness that affects them over a long term. These adjustments can relate to physical workspaces, job roles, or employment practices. The goal is to ensure that employees with disabilities have equal opportunities to perform their roles effectively and enjoy the same benefits and conditions of employment as their non-disabled colleagues.

The need to make reasonable adjustments arises when an employee experiences disadvantages in the workplace owing to their condition. Disabilities can be physical, sensory, mental, or cognitive impairments. The requirement to make adjustments can be triggered at various stages of employment:

  • Recruitment and Selection: Adjustments could include providing application forms in accessible formats or offering additional time during interviews.

  • Employment and Promotion: Adjustments may be necessary for facilitating job performance, such as modifying equipment, providing assistive technology or facilitating remote-working.
  • Training and Development: Ensuring training materials and sessions are accessible to all employees, including those with disabilities.

Reasonable adjustments can take many forms, depending on the specific needs of the employee and the nature of their disability. Common types of adjustments include:

  • Physical Adjustments: Modifying the work environment, such as installing ramps, widening doorways, or providing accessible parking spaces.

  • Workplace Adjustments: Altering workstations, providing ergonomic furniture, or supplying assistive devices like screen readers or hearing aids.

  • Work Schedule Adjustments: Allowing flexible working hours, part-time work, or providing additional breaks to accommodate medical needs.

  • Policy Adjustments: Amending workplace policies to ensure they do not disadvantage employees with disabilities, such as adjusting attendance policies to account for medical appointments.

  • Support Services: Providing access to support workers, job coaches, or interpreters for employees with disabilities.

While the Equality Act 2010 mandates making reasonable adjustments, there may be instances where it may be justifiable to refuse to make them without risking allegations of discrimination. Choosing not to make reasonable adjustments must be based on a careful consideration of several factors and we strongly recommend that this is documented:

  1. Reasonableness: The adjustment must be practical and feasible. If an adjustment is deemed unreasonable due to excessive cost, significant disruption, or impracticality, it may be refused.

  2. Financial Implications: If making the adjustment would cause significant financial strain or operational difficulties for the business, it may be considered financially inviable. This should also be balanced against the resources available to the employer.

  3. Health and Safety: Adjustments that compromise the health and safety of the employee or others in the workplace, including customers and service providers, can be reasonably refused.

  4. Effectiveness: Any proposed adjustment must alleviate the disadvantages faced by the employee. If it is unlikely to be effective then it may not be required.

As we have discussed, an inclusive working environment and an open-minded attitude, broadens the available talent pool to help give your organisation a competitive edge. However, we cannot dismiss the fact that the requirement to make reasonable adjustment is often to mitigate the risks of potential discrimination claims. Organisations should therefor:

  • Engage in open and constructive dialogue with employees to understand their needs and explore potential adjustments.

  • Document all considerations and decisions regarding reasonable adjustments to provide a clear rationale and maintain a record that a proper process was followed and due consideration was given.

  • Regularly review and update policies to ensure compliance with legal requirements and evolving best practices.

Reasonable adjustments are vital for promoting inclusivity and equality in the workplace. By understanding when and how to implement these adjustments, and recognising when it may be reasonable to refuse them, businesses can support a diverse workforce while ensuring legal compliance and fostering a positive work environment.

For help, support and advice with making reasonable adjustments, absence, or any HR or Employment Law related matter, we’re just a phone call, or email, away. Contact us on 01452 331331 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

  

Read 628 times Last modified on Friday, 24 May 2024 12:55

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