What are reasonable adjustments under the Equality Act (2010) and when do they apply?

The Equality Act (2010) requires employers to offer reasonable adjustments for disabled employees, however, it is down to employers to decide what is reasonable and adjustments should comprise.

Reasonable adjustments are limited to those that prevent a disabled person from being placed at a substantial disadvantage compared with those who are not disabled, and are primarily concerned with enabling the disabled person to remain at work or return to work. Therefore, when trying to decide what is a reasonable adjustment, it is important to identify the disadvantage faced by the employee and whether or not any adjustments would alleviate this.

Possible adjustments include making adjustments to premises (e.g ramps, widening doors), changing hours of work, provision of training, modifying processes such as a grievance process to allow a disabled person to be accompanied, adjusting redundancy criteria by ignoring disability-related sickness, providing modified work equipment or allocating some of the disabled person’s duties to someone else.

One of the factors that needs to be taken into account when deciding whether or not an adjustment is ‘likely’ to be reasonable is the extent to which the adjustment would diminish the disadvantage. Other factors would also include how practical the adjustment is, the financial cost of making the adjustment, the extent of any disruption to the employer’s activities, the availability of financial and other resources available, and the nature of the employer’s activities and the size of the undertaking.

The Equality Act states the employer only has to make reasonable adjustments if it knows the employee is disabled. An occupational health assessment during employment or at the pre-employment by an occupational health professional can help determine whether or not an individual may be classed as disabled under the Act. Occupational health specialists can also help employers in making the decision on whether an adjustment is likely to be reasonable and lawful, however, the ultimate decision on whether or not the organization can accommodate any specific adjustment is down to the organization itself. If you would like to understand how the Equality Act may affect your business, please call us for more information.