A big part of health, safety and wellbeing at work is making sure employees with disabilities have everything they need to feel supported, empowered and well-equipped in the workplace. In this article Posturite answers some of the most frequently asked questions employers ask about making reasonable adjustments.
As many as 7.8 million working-age people in the UK report living with a disability. Of these, an estimated 3.9 million are in employment, which is an increase of 150,000 from last year. Two years ago the Government launched a strategy called ‘Improving Lives: the Future of Work, Health and Disability’ in a bid to get 4.5 million people with disabilities in employment by 2027. This involves policy changes, training programmes, investment in disability services and the creation of a dedicated team to drive and champion the cause.
Ultimately, the power is in the hands of employers. It’s up to us to create an inclusive environment which supports individuals with disabilities. In fact it’s our duty under the Equality Act 2010 to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ for those who need them. This involves removing barriers people face because of their disability or illness, in order to give them, as far as possible, the same opportunities and means as those who are not disabled.
What reasonable adjustments should you make? Under the law, employers are expected to make the following reasonable adjustments within their business:
Changing the way things are done
This essentially means that sometimes the way organisations do things makes life harder for people with disabilities. If it is ‘reasonable’ to change this in a way that doesn’t disadvantage anyone, then you must do so.
For example, it is your organisation’s policy for staff to park in a designated car park across the road. Allowing an employee with a mobility impairment to park in the visitor spaces directly outside the office building is likely to be considered a reasonable adjustment.
Changing a physical feature
Making changes to the physical features of a building, such as:
• Passageways and paths
• Entrances and exits
• Lighting and ventilation
• Steps and stairs
• Size of premises
Provide extra equipment or services
This means that if you can reasonably provide something to enable someone to do their job then you must do so.
• Assistive technology products and software
• Disability Enablement assessments
• Extra staff assistance
When is it necessary to make reasonable adjustments?
The Equality Act 2010 says that you have a duty to make reasonable adjustments when an employee is placed at a ‘substantial disadvantage’ due to a disability when compared with their colleagues.
What counts as a substantial disadvantage?
A substantial disadvantage is defined in the Equality Act as being one that is ‘more than minor or trivial’. In other words, it would likely have a big impact on that person’s ability to carry out a task properly or effectively. The Act also emphasises that the employee would have to be at a substantial disadvantage when compared to a person or group carrying out the same tasks.
Some common examples of disabilities that are likely to put someone at a substantial disadvantage include:
• Problems with hearing or sight
• Conditions that come and go, like ME, fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis
• Learning disabilities
• Dyslexia and dyspraxia
• Impairments caused by injury
• Conditions that get worse over time, like motor neurone disease, muscular dystrophy, or forms of dementia
• Autistic spectrum disorders
What happens if you don’t make reasonable adjustments?
If you don’t make reasonable adjustments for an employee then you are breaking the law. That employee can then complain internally and if the problem isn’t resolved, make a discrimination claim against you under the Equality Act. This can result in:
• A compensation pay out
• Aggravated damages
• Personal injury
• Recommendations such as:
• Introducing an equal opportunities policy
• Setting up an internal review panel to deal with grievance procedures
• Retraining staff in equality matters
• Ensure equal opportunities policies are more effectively implemented
One of our core services at Posturite is Disability Enablement. We believe in enabling and empowering individuals, helping them to reach their full potential in their roles. We do this in three ways:
• Assessing individuals
• Providing assistive technology (AT)
• Training in the use of AT
We make your lives easier by handling the entire enablement process end to end - from drawing up a plan of action, to coordinating with your teams internally to implement the plan, all the while working alongside the end users themselves to make sure the solutions we’ve put in place really are helping them.
You can find out more about reasonable adjustments, enablement and how we can help by visiting our website: