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What's reasonable, when considering adjustments?

by WorkFA

The Equality Act 2010 asks that employers make reasonable adjustments to any elements of the job which place a disabled person at a substantial disadvantage compared to non-disabled people. But, what factors, as an employer, do you need to consider when thinking about what is reasonable?

Consider:

  • Cost - do you have the financial resources to make the adjustment?

  • Practicality - are you able to make an adjustment? Will the adjustment be disruptive for other staff? Can the adjustment be made safely?

  • Resources - are the resources required to make the adjustment available to you

  • Effectiveness - will the adjustment enable the employee to do the job in question?

If it is not reasonable for you as the employer to make an adjustment, you can lawfully decline to make the changes.

In general, the easier an adjustment, the more likely it is reasonable. When thinking about cost, take the size and resources of your organisation into account. The cost that would be considered reasonable is higher the more financial resources available to you.

A large proportion of adjustments required to enable a disabled employee to do their work are relatively easy to implement. Some examples might include:

  • Sharing forms or materials in large print.

  • Moving movable furniture to enable wheelchair access.

  • Allowing a guide or hearing dog in the office.

  • Purchasing specialist equipment, such as an ergonomic keyboard or chair.

  • Modifying lighting (i.e. using natural daylight bulbs).

  • Providing an electronic or manual note taking service.

  • Allowing more freedom for impairment/health-condition related sickness leave.

  • Allowing a disabled team member to park in a specific area of the car park.

  • Providing a sign-language interpreter.

  • Allowing flexible, working day, start or end times.

  • Purchasing a standing desk or lowering a desk.

  • Allowing remote working.

Each individual’s circumstances will vary even when considering similar impairments. Reasonable adjustments should be consulted on a case-by-case basis. Where the ideal adjustment is not reasonable, for instance, impractical or too costly, try to consider if anything else might be done to enable a better working environment for the disabled person.

Who decides what is reasonable?

In the event of a claim of disability discrimination being brought against an employer, an Employment Tribunal would decide if the employer was correct to decline to make an adjustment or if the adjustments made were reasonable.

In the event that you are unsure whether the adjustments are reasonable, take independent legal advice to aid in your decision.

Written by

WorkFA

We're on a mission to make workplaces work for all. HR and Line Managers use our disability HR software to meet the compliance and legal requirements for their disabled employees.