19 February 2016
What Are Reasonable Adjustments in The Workplace?
Reasonable adjustments are changes employers must make in the workplace when disabled people are put at a substantial disadvantage compared to others who are not disabled.
The aim of making reasonable adjustments is to remove barriers to work that disabled people might face by making positive changes to the working environment.
If an employer fails to make a reasonable adjustment, such as changes to their work premises, working arrangements or their lack of auxiliary aids, then it could be disability discrimination under the Equality Act 2010.
You should never be asked to pay for any of these types of changes to the workplace. Even if reasonable adjustments are made solely for your benefit your employer must pay for these changes to enable you to do your job. However, the cost involved in making a change will be taken into account when deciding whether any proposed changes are in fact reasonable.
Examples of Reasonable Adjustments
Reasonable adjustments do not just include physical changes to the office such as building access ramps, widening doors and rearranging office the layout to make workstations accessible for physically disabled employees. They can also be things like providing extra aids or specific equipment to help you do your job, or even simply altering the way in which work is completed.
Reasonable adjustments can be made for people with physical and non-physical disabilities.
Providing extra support or adjusting workload targets and breaks are examples of adjustments that can be made for those who are at a substantial disadvantage in the workplace because they suffer from a disability that affects their concentration. This could be a mental health condition.
When an Employer Must Make Reasonable Adjustments
If your employer knows about your disability and it puts you at a substantial disadvantage compared with people who are not disabled, then they may have a duty to make reasonable adjustments.
Employers also have to make reasonable adjustments when they should know about a person’s disability and its effect on them in the workplace in situations where they are given enough information, even if they do not actually know. Employers are expected to take reasonable steps to find out the information needed to know if their employees have disabilities.
What to do if Your Employer Fails to Make Reasonable Adjustments
If your employer refuses to make reasonable adjustments you can take action against them because their refusal may be unlawful disability discrimination under the Equality Act.
- First you should talk with your employer about making adjustments for you at work. If you can resolve the issue informally then you should do so.
This is often the easiest way to bring about reasonable adjustments in your workplace. You should be able to suggest what positive changes can be made in order to remove your barriers to work.
- If you are unable to bring about reasonable adjustments by speaking with your employer informally, then you may choose to make a formal complaint or raise a grievance.
For more information on grievances, see our Legal Advice Guide to Grievance Procedures.
- The final course of action you could take would be to make a claim for disability discrimination in the employment tribunal.
- If you don’t raise a grievance with your employer before submitting a claim to the employment tribunal, any compensation awarded to you may be reduced by up to 25 per cent.
Before submitting a claim to the employment tribunal you must, however, make sure that you complete an ACAS early conciliation form within three months of the discrimination having taken place.
You can contact our workplace discrimination solicitors for help and advice on reasonable adjustments and disability discrimination on freephone 0800 916 9060 or contact us online.
We also provide a free disability discrimination case assessment by an expert solicitor.