Creating a fairer Britain
The Equality Act came into force on 1 October 2010. Some of the information on this page may be out of date.
Access to work is a scheme run by Jobcentre Plus, which provides financial support to disabled people travelling to work as well as help at work, such as with equipment or support workers.
Disability employment advisers can help you gain access to government programmes, such as Workstep and work psychologists who can help you.
Workstep is a programme for people with complex support needs. It is able to provide advice, guidance and support to employers and employees in areas such as training, supervision and other support. They may also be able to provide some financial help to cover the extra costs for the company, which are not paid for by Access to Work. Workstep providers can also help set up Access to Work.
Supported employment organisations can provide vocational profiling and job matching support. This type of help can work through complex support issues and solutions with both the employer and employee.
Other organisations can provide other forms of assessment for you, such as for computer equipment that might help you to do your job or do it better.
Some companies provide a similar service to employers, and you may find that your organisation uses such a service.
AbilityNET is an organisation that provides independent assessments looking at computer use and workstation support.
Some larger organisations have health and safety or occupational health departments to help with assessments for a person with a health condition or disability.
The DDA gives examples of adjustments an employer may have to make if it is reasonable to do so.
One test of reasonableness is that if the cost of making adjustments is anything up to the cost of recruiting and training a new employee then this is reasonable.
This list gives some examples (there may be more) and it may be that one or more steps are necessary.
If there is a part of your job that is difficult or impossible to do, then it may be that getting someone else to do this, or restructuring the team so that the task is covered by other means, would be reasonable.
If, after considering reasonable adjustments, you are still not be able to carry out the main aspects of a particular role, an alternative could be to look at moving jobs within the organisation. This is more likely to be ‘reasonable’ within a large company with different types of roles. A recent legal case (Archibald) established that it may sometimes be reasonable to consider moving someone to a more senior position.
Changing or reducing your hours could mean that you are able to continue with your job. Reduced hours might mean less pay but this could be replaced by tax credits, for example.
If you find the location for regular work or for training difficult, it may be possible to move to another department or premises. Sometimes working from home is a solution.
If you need time off during work hours to attend appointments for your health condition or disability, it is ‘reasonable’ to expect this from your employer so long as it is not possible to rearrange appointments out of work hours.
If you need to attend training events, your employer might need to adapt the sessions so you are able to fully access the training. This might mean having additional support or setting up a new way of acquiring the information, such as mentoring or online learning.
Samantha, a 26 year-old woman with moderate hearing loss and moderate learning disability had worked for a cafe for seven years. The local council decided to insist that all staff have the ‘Basic Hygiene’ certificate. Samantha, her parents and the employer were very concerned that if she was unable to pass, then her job would be in jeopardy.
The company bought in one-day training for all staff, with a written exam at the end. Samantha used the Workstep programme and, before the training, the employer and the Workstep provider identified a ‘Basic Food Hygiene’ course at the local college for people with learning disabilities.
Samantha attended the course, which was three hours a week for four weeks prior to the staff training (on full pay). She then attended the staff training day with a signer specialising in working with people with learning disabilities. She took the test on the day, with the support of the signer. The awarding body for the certificate agreed this support. Samantha passed the course and was able to keep her job.
One way your employer might be able to support you is to provide or adapt equipment to suit your particular needs – for example, by providing wrists rests if you have difficulties typing for any length of time or a CCTV for an employee with sight issues. If you are deaf or hearing-impaired, you may be able to use a work telephone modified with an amplifier or you might need a text telephone. Many of these pieces of equipment can be paid for by the Access to Work scheme.
If you can’t access written materials, for example equipment and reference manuals, policies and procedures on fire evacuation, reports etc, then your employer could translate these into accessible formats such as large print, audio-cassette or mind maps (if you are dyslexic).
Simon, who is blind, made up packets of screws to include with self-assembly furniture. When new job orders came in, his personal reader (paid for by Access to Work) would read the details onto tape. Simon used his tape recorder (also paid for by Access to Work) to listen to the tapes giving him all the instructions being followed by the other packers.
You may be concerned about how you will take part in an internal assessment or testing session – such as for a promotion. It is reasonable to expect your employer to make these events accessible to you. This might include providing a support worker, using practical instead of written tests, giving extra time or providing written instructions in different formats.
Your employer may also use psychometric tests to assess intelligence, aptitude, personality and motivation. Only suitably trained people should carry out and interpret such tests, and expert advice should be sought on how and if the test can be changed to take account of disability or health issues. However, this might include extra time for you to read if you have dyslexia or provision of interpreters if you are deaf.
Your employer should ask you about any problems you might have with the tests, and how these problems could be overcome. They could:
You may need someone to provide communication support for you at work or at interview, possibly by reading written information onto tape or directly for providing sign language interpretation. There is a national shortage of interpreters and other communication support staff nationwide, so your employer needs to plan ahead.
Especially when you first start a new job, you may need extra support and supervision. If this is provided, it is important that the person supporting you is relieved of some other duties so that they are able to fulfil the extra role. This counts as a reasonable adjustment.
Ahmed, a 32-year-old man with a mental health condition, started working for a fast food retail chain. Ahmed had finished a six-week placement with the restaurant on the work preparation programme and was offered a paid job using the Workstep programme. He had low self-confidence and therefore required more time from the supervisor, to re-assure him that he was doing the job correctly.
Initially, the restaurant put two supervisors on the shifts Ahmed worked. Workstep paid for the additional cost of this. As the weeks went on, Ahmed, the Workstep provider and the employer decided that the extra support was needed less and less. It was reduced slowly over three months before ending altogether.
Ahmed worked successfully in this job for 18 months and then had the confidence to return to the engineering profession for which he was qualified.
For some organisations, it will be easier to make some alterations rather than others because of the nature of their business.
The following table gives some simple suggestions for specific creative adjustments that can be made for certain disabilities or health conditions. Please note, it is not exhaustive, and the adjustments may not work for everyone.
|hearing||Taking part in meetings||palantypist|
|hearing||phone call||videophone or textphone|
|sight or anxiety conditions||New employee arriving at work||Colleague meets them at bus stop|
|dyslexia||writing a report||mind mapping software|
|dyslexia||taking part in a meeting||Send minutes in advance, in user friendly text|
|severe asthma||outreach around London||Taxi's to and from nearest public transport to appointments|
|epilepsy||Long meetings on very long days||Frequent breaks, lots of cold drinks and fan available|
|learning disability||taking minutes||dictaphone and extra time to type up|
|lupus||attending work full time all year||Flexible working, such as compressed hours|
|hearing||getting details of venue of next appointment||Nokia communicator|
|work related upper limb disorder||admin day||timing software which locks every 20 minutes|
|stammer||team meetings||training for other staff|
|severe back pain||operating a checkout||full ergonomic assessment and regular rest breaks|
|autism||fitting into a new team||assign a buddy especially to explain 'office culture'|
|depression||reception duties from 8am||adjust shift patters to best part of day - after 11am|
|anxiety/panic attacks||travel in rush hour||adjust working day to 11am - 7pm|