What are Reasonable Adjustments at Work?

Employers in England and Wales are required by law to make reasonable adjustments for you at work if you have a disability. This is a requirement under the Equality Act 2010 and are in place to minimise any disadvantages disabled people may have at work.

If your employer (or potential employer) has not made reasonable adjustments for you there are things you can do to try to resolve the issues. As a starting point, you need to understand when the obligation to make reasonable adjustments applies, what they are and what you can do.

Reasonable adjustment requirements don’t just apply if you are already working for an employer, they also apply if you are going through the recruitment process.

For free initial legal advice get in touch with our Employment Solicitors.

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What is ‘Reasonable’?

Your employer is required to make adjustments for you by law if they are reasonable, but it can be difficult to define what exactly ‘reasonable’ means. It really does depend on each individual situation. Your employer should be looking at assessing your adjustments based on some of the following factors:

  • Is it practical for them to make the adjustment?
  • Do they have the resources to pay for it?
  • Will the adjustments overcome or reduce your disadvantage at work?
  • Will there be a negative impact on the health and safety of other workers?

Often, adjustments cost very little or nothing at all and can make a big difference. You could even apply to the government for Access to Work grants to pay for your workplace to be assessed and potentially recommended some adjustments. Employers will often refer employees to occupational health in order to explore whether any reasonable adjustments can be made.

If you work for a large company, they may be expected to do more as they have more resources to pay for any adjustments in the workplace.

An employer can lawfully refuse to make adjustments if they are not reasonable so it’s important to understand this from a legal perspective, taking all the factors into account.

When Does My Employer Have to Make Reasonable Adjustments?

Your employer has should consider making reasonable adjustments when:

  • They become aware of your disability
  • They could reasonably be expected to know about your disability
  • You ask for adjustments
  • You are having difficulty with part of your job
  • Your disability is having an impact on your sickness record or stopping you from returning to work.

If any of these applies to your situation, it’s likely that your employer should be considering making reasonable adjustments for you. Employers are generally better placed to implement reasonable and suitable adjustment where they are aware of the full extent of the employee’s condition. It’s therefore important that you have an open discussion with your manager about the issues. This will help them understand what you need and how it will help you.

You can also expect reasonable adjustments if you need them when you are going through the recruitment process. For example, if you are deaf you could ask for an interpreter to attend an interview with you. You could claim this cost back from Access To Work grants. Most employers ask at interview stage if there are any special requirements needed for an interview.

Your employer will have to decide what adjustments need to be made and whether they are reasonable or not.

Common types of adjustments may include:-:

  • Amending the duties and responsibilities that come with your role
  • Reducing the number of days or hours of work
  • Redeploying you to an alternative role that you may find it easier to carry out
  • Making a physical alteration to its premises

There are many different types of reasonable adjustments your employer could make, but it really does depend on your circumstances. Some could cost nothing at all such as changing your working patterns or modifying your performance targets. Some could carry a cost such as providing a special chair or keyboard or adding in a ramp for a wheelchair user, but it really does depend on what is considered reasonable in the circumstances.

If your employer is not making reasonable adjustments for you at work you could have a claim for disability discrimination. Talk to one of our experienced Employment Law Solicitors who will review your situation and offer you free initial advice.

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