The Equality Act 2010 requires an employer to make reasonable adjustments to enable a disabled person to work.

These reasonable adjustments may impact on the recruitment, induction and on-going work of an individual. There is no definition of “reasonable” - it's unique to each organisation and will consider certain factors. Many reasonable adjustments are low or no cost and make a big difference to disabled employees.

Reasonable adjustments in recruitment

These may include:

  • Giving longer time for interviews or tests if needed
  • Accepting applications in different formats, like large print
  • Making sure interview locations are fully accessible

Reasonable adjustments in induction

These may include:

  • Providing information in different formats
  • Adapting processes for different learning styles

Reasonable adjustments in work

These may include:

  • Providing suitable equipment, possibly through Access to Work, like voice-activated software, a new chair or desk, adapted keyboard or mouse or lower filing cabinets
  • Transferring some tasks to a co-worker if appropriate
  • Being flexible about work location and working hours, maybe to accommodate transport problems or to allow a person to sometimes work from home
  • Changing the work environment to make it more accessible, like changing the layout of desks, where things are filed or using natural daylight bulbs
  • Providing training and support for the team if needed, such as deaf awareness training
  • As a last adjustment to consider, transfer to a more suitable job when a vacancy comes up, if no adjustments can be made in the current role.

These are just some examples. Open communication between employer and employee is very important as every employee is different and will need to be treated individually, even if they have a similar impairment to another person.

What is reasonable?

The list is not exhaustive. What's reasonable can depend on many things.

Cost

How much will the adjustment cost? Can it be justified in a business sense? Many adjustments will help others too, so take that into account. Also consider the cost of re-recruiting for the role and the help available from Access to Work.

Practicality

Can the same outcome be achieved by a different adjustment? It’s more likely to be reasonable for an employer to provide an adjustment which is easy, than one that is difficult to implement but if the difficult adjustment would remove a significant barrier then you would need to look at other factors.

Effectiveness

This is about ensuring the adjustment is going to do what it sets out to achieve. If an adjustment will have little benefit in reducing the disadvantage then it is unlikely to be considered effective. Effectiveness can also change over time so it is important to review adjustments regularly as part of the standard supervision process.

Disruption

Considering whether there is likely to be any disruption to others as a result of the adjustment. This is not often the case as it usually just affects the person concerned. However, an adjustment that requires another staff member to carry out different duties may or may not be reasonable.

Effect on others

How people see other’s reasonable adjustments depends on the culture of the workplace. If people see the reasons why things are being done then they should be more accepting of any change and recognise that it is about equal opportunities for all. It’s always important to remember Data Protection and that you should not disclose details on someone’s disability without their consent.

Health and safety

Not many adjustments will pose a health and safety risk. However, do consider this. Making improvements to the workplace should not have a negative effect on others.

Length of service, valuable skills

Whilst many reasonable adjustments are made at the start of the employment relationship, there will be people who require adjustments later in their work lives. In these circumstances the manager will want to retain valuable knowledge and skills and should be considered when looking at cost. 

Reasonable adjustments - further information