What is a reasonable adjustment?
If your employee becomes disabled, or develops a health condition due to their illness or injury, you are legally required to make reasonable adjustments to enable the employee to return to, and remain in work.
This is to ensure that they are not placed at a disadvantage and have equal opportunities at work.
What is reasonable depends on the size and nature of your organisation. Factors such as practicality, cost, effectiveness and adverse impact on the health & safety of others should be considered.
Remember, workplace adjustments can help your employee:
return to work early
return to their normal skills and capabilities
improve their confidence
When does this duty arise?
This duty arises when you:
become aware of your employee’s disability
could reasonably be expected to know about their disability
It also occurs when your employee:
asks for adjustments to be made
is having difficulty with any part of their job
their sickness record, or delay in returning to work, is linked to their disability.
As an employer, you should try and hold a meeting with your employee to discuss what can be done to help them.
You may find it helpful to start with:
finding out more about the condition and its typical effects on someone at work
finding out what makes their symptoms better or worse at work
looking at their absence level compared to colleagues
Examples of reasonable adjustments
Changing working hours, patterns and/ or location of work
Allowing a phased return to work
Arranging telephone conferences to reduce travel
‘Reasonable’ time off for clinical appointments
Inclusion of women’s health issues in workplace risk assessments
Training of line managers to be aware of gender-specific health conditions and what adjustments may be necessary to support women at work
Adoption of flexible sickness absence procedures that do not penalise women for time off for gender-specific health conditions
Providing a special chair/ other equipment for problems caused by health condition(s)
Temporary change of duties or responsibilities
Having a quiet place for regular breaks
Adjustment of room temperature / improved ventilation
Can I get help to make workplace adjustments?
If you need advice or assistance when making these adjustments, you can seek specialist occupational health support. They can advise you how to carry out workplace adaptations (reasonable adjustments) to support your employees’ return to work. Access to Work (link in ‘other useful resources’) can help contribute towards the cost of reasonable adjustments in the workplace.
Failure to make reasonable adjustments
If you fail to make reasonable adjustments, or if your employee feels they are being discriminated against, they are able to bring a claim of disability discrimination to an employment tribunal. This is one such case, where an employer failed to make reasonable adjustments for a member of staff with Endometriosis.
Nayiri Keshishi is an Employability Curriculum Partner at Kingston University, where she designs and delivers training to develop the employability skills of Business and Social Science students. She has over 5 years’ of experience across higher education, employability and graduate recruitment and is currently studying towards an MSc in Occupational and Business Psychology. You can reach Nayiri on LinkedIn or Twitter @KNayiri.
February 2019 Managing your Menstrual Health at Work
13th April 2019 PMDD & Me Conference, Bournemouth, UK