What is meant by ‘reasonable’

New guidance

The Equality Act came into force on 1 October 2010. The information on this page reflects changes to the law.

When deciding whether an adjustment is reasonable an organisation can consider:

  • how effective the change will be in assisting disabled people in general or a particular customer, client, service user or member
  • whether it can actually be done
  • the cost, and
  • the organisation’s resources and size.

The aim of making adjustments is, as far as possible, to remove any disadvantage faced by disabled people.

An organisation can consider whether an adjustment is practicable. The easier an adjustment is, the more likely it is to be reasonable. However, just because something is difficult doesn’t mean it can’t also be reasonable. This has to be balanced against other factors. 

If an adjustment costs little or nothing and is not disruptive, it would be reasonable unless some other factor (such as impracticality or lack of effectiveness) made it unreasonable.

An organisation’s size and resources are another factor. If an adjustment costs a significant amount, it is more likely to be reasonable for an organisation to make it if it has substantial financial resources. The organisation’s resources must be looked at across the whole organisation, not just the branch or section that provides the particular service.

This is an issue which has to be balanced against the other factors.

In changing policies, criteria or practices, an organisation does not have to change the basic nature of the service it offers.

For example:

  • An association which exists to taste wine does not have to hold soft drink tastings when a member’s disability prevents them drinking alcohol.
  • Just because some of its treatments may be unsuitable for some disabled people, such as people undergoing chemotherapy for cancer, a beauty salon does not have to stop offering certain treatments altogether.

If, having taken all of the relevant issues into account, an organisation decides an adjustment is reasonable, then it must make the adjustment. 

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