Reasonable adjustments throughout the employment lifecycle
As an employer you are only able, and legally bound, to consider reasonable adjustments if you are aware that an employee has a disability that places them at a substantial disadvantage compared to non-disabled people.
An employee may acquire an impairment or health condition at any time through the employment lifecycle. 1 in 5 people in the UK have a disability. Only 17% of disabled people are born with their impairment or health condition, 83% of people develop it over time. It is more likely that an employee will develop a disability over time than be born with it. If, as an employer, you become aware of an employee's disability, you must consider if reasonable adjustments are required.
Ensure that your staff, especially your managers, are well trained to handle a disclosure of an impairment or health condition sensitively and according to your policies and procedures.
For example, an employee's work performance drops over the course of several months. Their manager discusses the change in performance with the employee and discovers that the employee has anxiety which they have been coping with for over 12 months. As the disability is both long-term (over 12 months), and substantial (impacting performance), reasonable adjustments may need to be considered.
In the case of South Staffordshire & Shropshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust v Billingsley an employee with dyspraxia was dismissed on capability grounds by the NHS Trust. The employee brought a claim of unfair dismissal before an Employment Tribunal. The NHS Trust was found to have not made appropriate reasonable adjustments that allowed her the chance of achieving an acceptable level of performance prior to subjecting her to performance reviews.
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