Reasonable Adjustments

The Equality Act 2010 places a duty on employers to make "reasonable adjustments" to any provision, criterion or practice that they apply and to physical features of their premises, to accommodate the needs of disabled employees and job applicants. The following guidance is provided to support managers in implementing reasonable adjustments for disabled staff in accordance with the Equality Act 2010, and in line with the University’s Equal Opportunities Policy.

Reasonable Adjustments and Responsibilities under the Equality Act 2010

The duty to make reasonable adjustments applies to three separate requirements:

1. Adjusting the way things are done.

This refers to any provision, criterion or practice which may place a disabled person at a substantial disadvantage in comparison to someone who is not disabled. These cover all aspects of employment, for example: recruitment and selection; promotion; training; retention, including sickness absence policies.

2. Adjusting physical features of the workplace.

It may be necessary to make adjustments to overcome barriers created by the physical features of the workplace. This includes any physical feature which puts a disabled person at a substantial disadvantage compared with a non-disabled person.

3. Providing extra equipment.

The Equality Act 2010 refers to this as an auxiliary aid (for example a hearing–loop) or an auxiliary service (a person/service provider that gives assistance to the disabled person). This requirement means taking reasonable steps to provide an auxiliary aid where the absence of such an aid would place a disabled person at a substantial disadvantage when compared with persons who are not disabled.
There can be no justification for a failure to make a ‘reasonable’ adjustment.

Examples of Possible Reasonable Adjustments

The following list sets out some possible examples reasonable adjustment which could be made to accommodate an individual’s disability.

Please note that reasonable adjustments can potentially be implemented on a temporary, occasional or a permanent basis.

  • Modifying instructions or reference manuals, e.g. providing them in Braille or large print;
  • Providing additional or tailored training, coaching or mentoring, for example for someone with severe dyslexia;
  • Adjusting working hours, for example allowing someone whose medication’s side effect is fatigue a later or flexible start time, or more frequent rest breaks;
  • Changing the place of work, for example moving an individual with limited mobility to a ground-floor location or allowing home working for part of the working week;
  • Providing special equipment, for example voice-activated software for someone with a visual impairment;
  • Providing a reader or interpreter, e.g. for someone who is deaf;
  • Agreeing to part-time working;
  • Changing the method of doing the job, e.g. allowing an employee who cannot drive due to epilepsy to use taxis for business travel;
  • Adjusting the duties of the job, for example exempting an employee with a back condition from the elements involving physical work;
  • Modifying procedures for testing and / or assessments as part of a recruitment exercise;
  • Extending an individual’s probationary period if disability-related sickness has prevented the individual from being able to demonstrate an acceptable level of performance during the normal probationary time-scale for the role;
  • Arranging for meetings to be held at a location or at a time to suit the individual or arranging for short breaks during long meetings - (for example, during disciplinary or grievance procedures);
  • Allocating some minor aspects of the role to another / other individuals without overburdening other individuals.

Useful factors to consider when determining what is reasonable

The following points of wider consideration should be explored in relation not only to the individual but the team, the department, the faculty and the University:

Equality Factors (Equality Act 2010)

  • Will it be reasonable to make a combination of adjustments?
  • The fact that other staff (without a medical condition) would like the benefit of an adjustment, is not relevant (legally) to the reasonableness of an adjustment for a member of staff with a medical condition.
  • If you make an adjustment that goes beyond the requirements of the Equality Act 2010 i.e. it is more than what it would be reasonable for you to do, this does not necessarily mean you have to provide a similar adjustment for other staff with a similar medical condition.

How effective will the change be

  • Consider the extent to which the adjustment benefits the staff member, e.g. would the adjustment enable the individual to carry out his/her existing duties (even if some minor duties have to be reallocated)? If so, then it is likely to be reasonable to make that adjustment.

How practical will the change be

  • How easy would it be to implement the adjustment? e.g. if an adjustment involved significant alterations to the procedures used, such that there had to be a complete revision of the way work is done in an area, this may be too impracticable to be considered reasonable.
  • Are there any health & safety considerations e.g. the effect it will have on other staff;

Resource Implications

  • If an adjustment costs little or nothing it is very likely to be reasonable unless some other factor (such as its practicability) makes it unreasonable. Other costs to be taken into account include staff and other resource costs. [See Funding the Cost of 'Reasonable Adjustments']
  • Consider the relative cost of the adjustment against what you might have to spend if the staff member does not return to his/her existing duties, e.g. it would be reasonable to spend at least as much on an adjustment to enable the retention of a member of staff (including any retraining) as might be spent on recruiting and training a replacement.
  • Consider the extent to which an adjustment will cause operational disruption: the greater the operational disruption, the less likely the adjustment will be considered reasonable.
  • Each case depends on its own circumstances, but it will generally be reasonable to make significant efforts to: reallocate minor or subsidiary duties; provide additional supervision.

Availability of other assistance

  • Seek advice from Workplace Health & Wellbeing/GP/Specialist on the need for an adjustment.
  • Always consider the availability of outside help, especially in assessing the reasonableness of the cost of adjustments.

It is important to be cautious to ensure that any reasonable adjustments are not based on assumptions or incorrect perceptions as to someone’s disability. This can be avoided by ensuring, as a manager, you speak to the individual about their needs (see guidance on Process for identifying and implementing Reasonable Adjustments) . 

Good Practice when making Reasonable Adjustments

  • Give consideration to making reasonable adjustments, where possible, for those who may have a health issue which may not be covered by the Equality Act 2010 definition of a disability.
  • Ensure that throughout every aspect of the employment relationship, the disabled person has the same access to everything that is involved in getting and doing a job as a non-disabled person, as far as is reasonable.
  • Consider each case fully and fairly. Managers are encouraged to liaise with Human Resources, as required.
  • Advice and support may be sought from Human Resources at any stage of considering and implementing reasonable adjustments. Though it is recognised that a lot of situations may be addressed simply.
  • Although there are no prescribed time-scales for making reasonable adjustments and these will be dependent upon the type of adjustment required, it is important that any such adjustments are put in place as promptly as possible.
  • If you anticipate that there may be any funding issues or there may be a delay in implementing a reasonable adjustment, please contact you HR Adviser for advice. This is particularly important if the delay may prevent the individual from returning to work.

Reasonable Adjustments and Redeployment

Redeployment may be explored in instances where for example;

  • all possible reasonable adjustments have been explored but do not meet the needs of the individual;
  • adjustments that have been tried were not effective;
  • adjustments are no longer effective.

If it is felt that redeployment may be a potential option, please contact your Faculty HR Team Contact.

Click here for guidance on the Process for identifying and implementing Reasonable Adjustments.