Examples of reasonable adjustments in the workplace
The DDA gives examples of adjustments an employer may have to make if it is reasonable to do so.
One test of reasonableness is that if the cost of making adjustments is anything up to the cost of recruiting and training a new employee then this is reasonable.
This list gives some examples (there may be more) and it may be that one or more steps are necessary.
Allocating some of the disabled person’s duties to another person
If there is a part of your job that is difficult or impossible to do, then it may be that getting someone else to do this, or restructuring the team so that the task is covered by other means, would be reasonable.
Transferring the person to an existing vacancy
If, after considering reasonable adjustments, you are still not be able to carry out the main aspects of a particular role, an alternative could be to look at moving jobs within the organisation. This is more likely to be ‘reasonable’ within a large company with different types of roles. A recent legal case (Archibald) established that it may sometimes be reasonable to consider moving someone to a more senior position.
Altering the person’s hours of working or training
Changing or reducing your hours could mean that you are able to continue with your job. Reduced hours might mean less pay but this could be replaced by tax credits, for example.
Work or training at a different location
If you find the location for regular work or for training difficult, it may be possible to move to another department or premises. Sometimes working from home is a solution.
Allowing the person to be absent during working or training hours for rehabilitation, assessment or treatment.
If you need time off during work hours to attend appointments for your health condition or disability, it is ‘reasonable’ to expect this from your employer so long as it is not possible to rearrange appointments out of work hours.
Giving, or arranging for, training or mentoring (whether for the disabled person or any other person)
If you need to attend training events, your employer might need to adapt the sessions so you are able to fully access the training. This might mean having additional support or setting up a new way of acquiring the information, such as mentoring or online learning.
Samantha, a 26 year-old woman with moderate hearing loss and moderate learning disability had worked for a cafe for seven years. The local council decided to insist that all staff have the ‘Basic Hygiene’ certificate. Samantha, her parents and the employer were very concerned that if she was unable to pass, then her job would be in jeopardy.
The company bought in one-day training for all staff, with a written exam at the end. Samantha used the Workstep programme and, before the training, the employer and the Workstep provider identified a ‘Basic Food Hygiene’ course at the local college for people with learning disabilities.
Samantha attended the course, which was three hours a week for four weeks prior to the staff training (on full pay). She then attended the staff training day with a signer specialising in working with people with learning disabilities. She took the test on the day, with the support of the signer. The awarding body for the certificate agreed this support. Samantha passed the course and was able to keep her job.
Getting or changing equipment
One way your employer might be able to support you is to provide or adapt equipment to suit your particular needs – for example, by providing wrists rests if you have difficulties typing for any length of time or a CCTV for an employee with sight issues. If you are deaf or hearing-impaired, you may be able to use a work telephone modified with an amplifier or you might need a text telephone. Many of these pieces of equipment can be paid for by the Access to Work scheme.
Changing instructions or reference manuals
If you can’t access written materials, for example equipment and reference manuals, policies and procedures on fire evacuation, reports etc, then your employer could translate these into accessible formats such as large print, audio-cassette or mind maps (if you are dyslexic).
Simon, who is blind, made up packets of screws to include with self-assembly furniture. When new job orders came in, his personal reader (paid for by Access to Work) would read the details onto tape. Simon used his tape recorder (also paid for by Access to Work) to listen to the tapes giving him all the instructions being followed by the other packers.
Modifying procedures for testing or assessment
You may be concerned about how you will take part in an internal assessment or testing session – such as for a promotion. It is reasonable to expect your employer to make these events accessible to you. This might include providing a support worker, using practical instead of written tests, giving extra time or providing written instructions in different formats.
Your employer may also use psychometric tests to assess intelligence, aptitude, personality and motivation. Only suitably trained people should carry out and interpret such tests, and expert advice should be sought on how and if the test can be changed to take account of disability or health issues. However, this might include extra time for you to read if you have dyslexia or provision of interpreters if you are deaf.
Your employer should ask you about any problems you might have with the tests, and how these problems could be overcome. They could:
- provide practice examples to all candidates if possible;
- make sure the venue is accessible to all staff; and
- provide any equipment/support you need.
Providing a reader or interpreter
You may need someone to provide communication support for you at work or at interview, possibly by reading written information onto tape or directly for providing sign language interpretation. There is a national shortage of interpreters and other communication support staff nationwide, so your employer needs to plan ahead.
Providing supervision or other support
Especially when you first start a new job, you may need extra support and supervision. If this is provided, it is important that the person supporting you is relieved of some other duties so that they are able to fulfil the extra role. This counts as a reasonable adjustment.
Ahmed, a 32-year-old man with a mental health condition, started working for a fast food retail chain. Ahmed had finished a six-week placement with the restaurant on the work preparation programme and was offered a paid job using the Workstep programme. He had low self-confidence and therefore required more time from the supervisor, to re-assure him that he was doing the job correctly.
Initially, the restaurant put two supervisors on the shifts Ahmed worked. Workstep paid for the additional cost of this. As the weeks went on, Ahmed, the Workstep provider and the employer decided that the extra support was needed less and less. It was reduced slowly over three months before ending altogether.
Ahmed worked successfully in this job for 18 months and then had the confidence to return to the engineering profession for which he was qualified.
For some organisations, it will be easier to make some alterations rather than others because of the nature of their business.
Other examples of possible adjustments
- Conducting a proper assessment of what reasonable adjustments may be required.
- Allowing flexible working, such as part-time work, annualised hours, non-standard start and finish times.
- Allowing a disabled employee to take a period of disability leave.
- Modifying disciplinary or grievance procedures.
- Adjusting redundancy selection criteria.
- Modifying performance-related pay arrangements.
The following table gives some simple suggestions for specific creative adjustments that can be made for certain disabilities or health conditions. Please note, it is not exhaustive, and the adjustments may not work for everyone.
Last Updated: 30 Jun 2009