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What is a reasonable adjustment for disability?


The Equality Act 2010 places a positive duty on employers to make reasonable adjustments to support and assist workers with disabilities. This is really important for business owners and line managers to be aware of. Whilst there’s no need for employers to make adjustments that would be ‘unreasonable’ (such as to allow a disabled worker to stay absent from work forever on full pay!), case law from tribunals and higher courts has repeatedly shown that the definition of what they do consider reasonable is wide-ranging. Here are some examples of reasonable adjustments you might encounter or implement in the workplace.


👍 A job candidate discloses prior to interview that they are dyslexic. As a written test is planned as part of the assessment, the manager liaises with the candidate about their specific needs. They agree for the candidate to have five minutes extra time for the test, and to be able to use a laptop with spellchecker enabled. If the candidate is successful at interview, similar adjustments will be agreed for their time at work.


👍 An employee returns to work following significant sight loss. The manager engages with them, Access to Work, and the RNIB in order to identify and source suitable technology for them to use (such as voice-to-text apps) and adapts their job description to remove activities which would likely now be unsafe. The employee picks up equivalent but safer duties to replace these.


👍 Long-term anxiety leads an employee to be absent from work on several separate occasions. The manager seeks occupational health advice about ways to support the employee’s mental and emotional wellbeing in the workplace, and makes an individual adjustment to the company’s sickness absence policy to allow them a higher trigger level than others before formal sanctions are considered. If this higher trigger level is breached, the practice manager will engage formal absence management procedures (which could result in warnings, or eventually dismissal), whilst continuing throughout to seek other ways of supporting the employee.


👍 Following a serious error of judgement at work, an autistic employee is investigated for potential gross misconduct, and a disciplinary hearing follows. At the hearing, the employee (who has admitted the error and reflected on it) explains how they had misunderstood the risks in this situation, and this misunderstanding was connected to their autism. The manager decides that with further training, it is unlikely that the misconduct will be repeated. They issue a final written warning on this occasion, rather than dismiss the employee.


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