Examples of reasonable adjustments in practice

Published: 19 February 2019

Last updated: 19 February 2019

What countries does this apply to?

  • England
  • Scotland
  • Wales

Examples of steps it might be reasonable for you to take include:

Making adjustments to premises

Example –

An employer makes structural or other physical changes such as widening a doorway, providing a ramp or moving furniture for a wheelchair user; relocates light switches, door handles, or shelves for someone who has difficulty in reaching; or provides appropriate contrast in decor to help the safe mobility of a visually impaired person.

Allocating some of the disabled worker’s duties to another worker

Example –

An employer reallocates minor or subsidiary duties to another worker as a disabled worker has difficulty doing them because of their disability. For example, the job involves occasionally going onto the open roof of a building but the employer transfers this work away from a worker whose disability involves severe vertigo.

Transferring the worker to fill an existing vacancy

Example –

An employer should consider whether a suitable alternative post is available for a worker who becomes disabled (or whose disability worsens), where no reasonable adjustment would enable the worker to continue doing the current job. This might also involve retraining or other reasonable adjustments such as equipment for the new post or a transfer to a position on a higher grade.

Altering the worker’s hours of working or training

Example –

An employer allows a disabled person to work flexible hours to enable them to have additional breaks to overcome fatigue arising from their disability. It could also include permitting part-time working, or different working hours to avoid the need to travel in the rush hour if this is a problem related to an impairment. A phased return to work with a gradual build-up of hours might also be appropriate in some circumstances.

Assigning the worker to a different place of work or training

Example –

An employer relocates the work station of a newly disabled worker (who now uses a wheelchair) from an inaccessible third floor office to an accessible one on the ground floor. If the employer operates from more than one workplace, it may be reasonable to move the worker's place of work to other premises of the same employer if the first building is inaccessible and the other premises are not.

Allowing the worker to be absent during working or training hours for rehabilitation, assessment or treatment

Example –

An employer allows a disabled person who has recently developed a condition to have more time off work than would be allowed to non-disabled workers to enable them to have rehabilitation. A similar adjustment would be appropriate if a disability worsens or if a disabled worker needs occasional treatment anyway.

Giving, or arranging for, training or mentoring (whether for the disabled worker or any other worker). This could be training in particular pieces of equipment which the disabled worker uses, or an alteration to the standard workplace training to make sure it is accessible for the disabled worker. 

Example –

All workers are trained in the use of a particular machine but an employer provides slightly different or longer training for an employee with restricted hand or arm movements, or training in additional software for a visually impaired person so that they can use a computer with speech output.

Example –

An employer provides training for workers on conducting meetings in a way that enables a Deaf staff member to participate effectively.

Example –

A disabled person returns to work after a six-month period of absence due to a stroke. Their employer pays for them to see a work mentor, and allows time off to see the mentor, to help with their loss of confidence following the onset of their disability.

Acquiring or modifying equipment

Example –

An employer might have to provide special equipment (such as an adapted keyboard for someone with arthritis or a large screen for a visually impaired workers), an adapted telephone for someone with a hearing impairment, or other modified equipment for disabled workers (such as longer handles on a machine). 

You do not have to provide or modify equipment for personal purposes unconnected with a worker’s job, such as providing a wheelchair if a person needs one in any event but does not have one. This is because the disadvantages do not flow from things you have control over.

Modifying instructions or reference manuals

Example –

The format of instructions and manuals might need to be modified for some disabled workers (such as being produced in braille or on audio CD) and instructions for people with learning disabilities might need to be conveyed orally with individual demonstration or in easy read.

Modifying procedures for testing or assessment

Example –

A worker with restricted manual dexterity who was applying for promotion would be disadvantaged by a written test, so the employer gives that person an oral test instead. 

Providing a reader or interpreter

Example –

An employer arranges for a colleague to read hard copy post to a worker with a visual impairment at particular times during the working day. Alternatively, the employer might hire a reader.

Providing supervision or other support

Example –

An employer provides a support worker or arranges help from a colleague, in appropriate circumstances, for someone whose disability leads to uncertainty or lack of confidence.

Allowing a disabled worker to take a period of disability leave

Example –

A worker who has cancer needs to undergo treatment and rehabilitation. Their employer allows a period of disability leave and permits them to return to their job at the end of this period.

Participating in supported employment schemes, such as WORKSTEP

Example –

A person applies for a job as an office assistant after several years of not working because of depression. They have been participating in a supported employment scheme where they saw the job advertised. As a reasonable adjustment the person asks the employer to let them make

Employing a support worker to assist a disabled worker

Example –

An adviser with a visual impairment is sometimes required to make home visits to clients. The employer employs a support worker to assist them on these visits.

Modifying disciplinary or grievance procedures

Example –

A worker with a learning disability is allowed to take a friend (who does not work with them) to act as an advocate at a meeting with the person's employer about a grievance. Normally the employer allows workers to be accompanied only by work colleagues. The employer also makes sure that the meeting is conducted in a way that does not disadvantage or patronise the disabled worker.

Adjusting redundancy selection criteria

Example –

A worker with an autoimmune disease has taken several short periods of absence during the year because of the condition. When their employer is taking the absences into account as a criterion for selecting people for redundancy, they discount these periods of disability-related absence.

Modifying performance-related pay arrangements

Example –

A disabled worker who is paid purely on their output needs frequent short additional breaks during their working day – something their employer agrees to as a reasonable adjustment. It is likely to be a reasonable adjustment for their employer to pay them at an agreed rate (e.g. their average hourly rate) for these breaks.

It may sometimes be necessary for an employer to take a combination of steps

Example –

A woman who is blind is given a new job with her employer in an unfamiliar part of the building. The employer:

  • Arranges facilities for her assistance dog in the new area
  • Arranges for her new instructions to be in Braille, and
  • Provides disability equality training to all staff.

In some situations, a reasonable adjustment will not work without the co-operation of other workers. Your staff may therefore have an important role in helping make sure that a reasonable adjustment is carried out in practice. You must make sure that this happens.

It is unlikely to be a valid 'defence' to a claim under equality law for a failure to make reasonable adjustments to argue that an adjustment was unreasonable because your staff were obstructive or unhelpful when you tried to make an adjustment happen. You would at least need to be able to show that you took all reasonable steps to try and resolve the problem of the attitude of your other staff.

Example –

An employer makes sure that a worker with autism has a structured working day as a reasonable adjustment. As part of the reasonable adjustment, it is the responsibility of the employer to make sure that other workers co-operate with this arrangement.

If the worker does not agree to your involving other workers, you must not breach their confidentiality by telling the other workers about the disabled person's situation.

If a worker is reluctant for other staff to know, and you believe that a reasonable adjustment requires the co-operation of the worker's colleagues, explain that you cannot make the adjustment unless they are prepared for some information to be shared. It does not have to be detailed information about their condition, just enough to explain to other staff what they need to do.


Advice and support

If you think you might have been treated unfairly and want further advice, you can contact the Equality Advisory and Support Service (EASS).

The EASS is an independent advice service, not operated by the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

Phone: 0808 800 0082

Or email using the contact form on the EASS website.
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Call the EASS on:

0808 800 0082

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