It’s important all businesses work hard to reduce the barriers disabled people face when working in the UK, and ensure they receive the same opportunities in the workplace as someone who is not disabled.

Organisations are encouraged to make accommodations, known as reasonable adjustments, to support disabled employees. Reasonable adjustments are often inexpensive and straightforward to implement but can make a tremendous difference to the wellbeing of your staff.

Workers with disabilities or health conditions should not be disadvantaged when performing their jobs. The Equality Act 2010 states that employers should implement changes to ensure disabled people have equal access to employment. Employers must make reasonable adjustments to help support employees in the workplace; this applies to all workers, including trainees, interns, apprentices, and contract workers.

What’s Meant by Reasonable?

A ‘reasonable adjustment’ is a change or alteration that is made to remove or reduce any disadvantage or barriers caused by an employee’s disability when working in their usual role, or a candidate’s disability when applying for a role.

A reasonable adjustment could involve making changes to:

  • the working environment
  • equipment used or services provided
  • the way the business or role operates on a daily basis
  • offering information to employees in a more accessible format

An employer should offer an adjustment only if it is reasonable to do so. What is considered to be ‘reasonable’ depends on several factors, including:

  • The type of disability
  • If the adjustment effectively assists the disabled employee to overcome the disadvantage; they face at work
  • How practicable the changes are to implement
  • The size of the organisation
  • How much funding and resources are available

What are the Benefits of Making Reasonable Adjustments?

Reasonable adjustments will support your employee to manage their condition or symptoms in the workplace. There is a misconception that workplace adjustments are an additional cost to your business rather than a tangible return on investment. Reasonable adjustments are a requirement by law, but in reality, workplace alterations are so much more than an obligation.

With simple policies in place, your employees will feel supported, engaged and able to deliver to their full potential. Your business will benefit from a positive workplace culture, an improvement in talent attraction and retention, productivity, and performance.

The best and most inclusive organisations already recognise the benefits of reasonable adjustments. For these businesses, workplace adjustments are not just part of their commitment to inclusiveness but have become simple business practices. It is essential to recognise that to become a successful business, you need talented employees performing to their highest ability which may involve making some simple adjustments.

Visit our guide to learn more about the benefits of hiring disabled employees.

Who Is Responsible for Paying for a Reasonable Adjustment?

As the employer, you are always responsible for paying for a reasonable adjustment. However, the cost of creating reasonable adjustments should not disincentive your business from implementing the changes. In a lot of cases, the adjustment is simple and easy to implement, and are not expected to make adjustments that are unreasonable.

There is financial support available to help your workplace accommodations for disabled employees. Visit our dedicated guide to understand more about the types of funding available, such as Access to Work.

It is a common misconception that reasonable adjustments are too expensive to implement. The average cost of a workplace adaptation is just £75. However, many adjustments cost nothing at all. It is clearly cost-effective to provide workplace adjustments rather than lose an employee.

Reasonable Adjustments Examples

  • Changes to the recruitment process so candidates with disabilities or health conditions can be considered for the role.
  • Creating simple adjustments in the working environment to allow someone to manage the symptoms of their condition. For example, allowing an employee with social anxiety disorder to work at a quiet working station.
  • Implementing physical changes to the workplace, such as installing a wheelchair ramp to accommodate wheelchair users or audio-visual fire alarms to accommodate deaf or employees with hearing loss.
  • Providing assistive technologies or changing an employee’s equipment, for example, people with arthritis benefit from using specialised keyboards.
  • Allowing employees who become disabled to make a phased return to work, including flexi-time or part-time working.
  • Offering employees accessible recreation and refreshment facilities, including inclusive company socials.

When is a Reasonable Adjustment Not Applicable?

The employer does not have to change the basic nature of the job for the person.

If you are unsure if you should make a reasonable adjustment for someone with a disability, the best thing to do is to seek legal advice before making any decision.

To understand more about these reasonable adjustments, visit our dedicated guides on accessible recruitment, assistive technologies, accessible recreation and socials, working environment adjustments, working hours, and leave of absence and returning to work.

As an organisation that advocates disability-friendly jobs, you can showcase your commitment today by creating a company profile on our website or promoting your roles on our dedicated disabled jobs board.

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