What are reasonable adjustments?
Equality law recognises that achieving equality for disabled people may mean changing the way that employment is structured.
This could be removing physical barriers or providing extra support for a disabled worker or job applicant.
This is the duty to make reasonable adjustments.
The duty to make reasonable adjustments aims to make sure that as a disabled person, you have, as far as is reasonable, the same access to everything that is involved in getting and doing a job as a non-disabled person.
When the duty arises, your employer is under a positive and proactive duty to take steps to remove or reduce or prevent the obstacles you face as a disabled worker or job applicant.
The employer only has to make adjustments where they are aware – or should reasonably be aware – that you have a disability.
Many of the adjustments your employer can make will not be particularly expensive, and they are not required to do more than it is reasonable for them to do.
What is reasonable depends, among other factors, on the size and nature of your employer's organisation.
You can bring a claim against your employer in the Employment Tribunal (and your employer may be ordered to pay you compensation as well as make the reasonable adjustments) if:
- you are a disabled worker, and
- you can show that there were barriers your employer should have identified and reasonable adjustments your employer could have made, and
- your employer does nothing
A failure to make reasonable adjustments counts as unlawful discrimination.
If you are a disabled person, the need to make adjustments for you as a worker or job applicant:
- must not be a reason not to promote you if you are the best person for the job with the adjustments in place
- must not be a reason to dismiss you
- must be considered in relation to every aspect of your job
provided the adjustments are reasonable for your employer to make.
Many factors will be involved in deciding what adjustments to make and they will depend on individual circumstances. Different people will need different changes, even if they appear to have similar impairments.
It is advisable for your employer to discuss the adjustments with you, otherwise any adjustments they make may not be effective.
The rest of this section looks at the detail of the duty and gives examples of the sorts of adjustments your employer could make.
Last updated: 18 Apr 2019