Equality law recognises that bringing about equality for disabled people may mean changing the way in which employment is structured, the removal of physical barriers and/or providing extra support for a disabled worker.
This is the duty to make reasonable adjustments.
The duty to make reasonable adjustments aims to make sure that, as far as is reasonable, a disabled worker has the same access to everything that is involved in doing and keeping a job as a non-disabled person.
When the duty arises, you are under a positive and proactive duty to take steps to remove or reduce or prevent the obstacles a disabled worker or job applicant faces.
You only have to make adjustments where you are aware – or should reasonably be aware – that a worker has a disability.
Many of the adjustments you can make will not be particularly expensive, and you are not required to do more than what is reasonable for you to do. What is reasonable for you to do depends, among other factors, on the size and nature of your organisation.
If, however, you do nothing, and a disabled worker can show that there were barriers you should have identified and reasonable adjustments you could have made, they can bring a claim against you in the Employment Tribunal, and you may be ordered to pay them compensation as well as make the reasonable adjustments.
In particular, the need to make adjustments for an individual worker:
- must not be a reason not to promote a worker if they are the best person for the job with the adjustments in place
- must not be a reason to dismiss a worker
- must be considered in relation to every aspect of a workers job
- provided the adjustments are reasonable for you to make.
Many factors will be involved in deciding what adjustments to make and they will depend on individual circumstances. Different people will need different changes, even if they appear to have similar impairments.
It is advisable for you to discuss the adjustments with the disabled worker, otherwise the adjustments may not be effective.
The rest of this section looks at the detail of the duty and gives examples of the sorts of adjustments you could make.
Last updated: 18 Nov 2019