Employers are legally obliged to make reasonable adjustments to ensure that disabled people, or people with physical or mental health conditions, are not substantially disadvantaged when applying for or carrying out a job.
A reasonable adjustment is a change to a work process, practice, procedure or environment (including physical layouts, equipment, support) that helps remove, reduce or prevent the obstacles faced by a disabled worker or job applicant.
This applies to all workers, including trainees, apprentices, contract workers and business partners, as well as job applicants and visitors.
What is ‘reasonable’ depends on several factors, including the resources available to the organisation making the adjustment. The Business Disability Forum provides some guidance here on what might be reasonable. At Queen Mary, we are committed to making the necessary adjustments to support disabled people wherever possible.
Reasonable adjustments could include
- Making changes to the recruitment process so a candidate can be considered for a job.
- Doing things in another way (e.g. allowing someone with social anxiety to have their own desk instead of hot-desking or to commute at different hours, providing minutes and papers in advance of meetings for visually impaired employees, in a suitable format for the relevant screen reader).
- Making physical changes to the workplace (e.g. installing a ramp for a wheelchair user, an audio-visual fire alarm for a deaf person, providing parking facilities).
- Changing equipment (e.g. providing a modified keyboard if an employee has arthritis of the hand or purchasing assistive software like voice recognition software).
- Allowing employees who become disabled to make a phased return to work, including flexible hours or part-time working (note that any staff, disabled or non-disabled can request flexible working through our policy here, and the reason for making the request does not need to be disclosed).
- Making changes to someone’s working patterns, hours or ways of working (e.g. allowing someone with insomnia and/or depression to work different hours of the day; to regularly work from home through flexible working; to attend appointments or therapies to help manage their condition).
- Providing training for colleagues (e.g. ensuring staff receive deaf/hearing impairment awareness training to enable a hearing-impaired employee to feel included).
- Providing support in the workplace (e.g. providing a BSL interpreter for meetings so that a hearing impaired employee can participate fully or assigning an office buddy to someone on the Autism spectrum to explain office culture and norms).
- Offering employees relevant training opportunities, recreation and refreshment facilities (e.g. a dedicated quiet space for an autistic employee who experiences sensory overload).
You can find more information and support on reasonable adjustments on the following sites:
- Citizens Advice: Asking your employer for changes to help you if you’re disabled
- Equality Human Rights Commission: In employment: Workplace adjustments
- UK: Reasonable adjustments for workers with disabilities or health conditions
How to request and manage reasonable adjustments at Queen Mary
If you are disabled, or have a physical or mental health condition, you are entitled to request reasonable adjustment(s) to ensure you are not substantially disadvantaged in the workplace. You should speak to your line manager to discuss your needs and any adjustments you may require to your workplace and/or ways of working. You should also discuss a plan to implement next steps and to review their effectiveness over time.
You may also wish to speak to Occupational Health, who can provide advice and support and make suggestions about the reasonable adjustments that may be required.
You can seek further advice and support from your HR Adviser.
If you need additional support that cannot be covered by Queen Mary’s resources, Access to Work may be able to provide this support.
If you are a job applicant, you should contact email@example.com to discuss your needs and any adjustments you may require.
If a member of staff you are managing is disabled or has a mental or physical health condition, they may require reasonable adjustments to support them in the workplace. You should have a discussion together about what support they may need, and then agree the adjustments and next steps. You should also discuss a plan to review the effectiveness of any adjustments over time.
You can seek further advice and support from your HR Adviser.
Funding for reasonable adjustments
Queen Mary does not currently have a central fund to finance reasonable adjustments. Therefore, these should be financed by your Institute/Department/School budgetNote that The Equality Act (2010) makes it unlawful to pass on the costs to a disabled employee.
If the staff member needs additional support that cannot be covered by Queen Mary’s resources, Access to Work may be able to provide this support.
Getting advice and support for your staff
You may also wish to refer your staff member to Occupational Health, who can provide advice and support and make suggestions about the reasonable adjustments that may be required.
You can also seek further advice and support from your HR Adviser.
Things you should consider
You should be mindful that some disabled staff (and those with mental or physical health conditions) may be worried about approaching their managers to discuss the support they need and request reasonable adjustments. You should be open and understanding while listening to staff member’s concerns and/or needs and be clear that you wish to support them in any way you can.
You should read and be familiar with all our pages on disability and disability equality at Queen Mary, including the resources and support available at Queen Mary. Remember that identifying as disabled or having a disability or mental or physical health condition means different things to different people and not all disabilities are visible or permanent.
If you are a hiring manager
If you are a hiring manager, you should ensure you are using the job advert and interview invite templates provided by HR, You should also ensure new starters are aware of our support for disabled staff and point them to this guidance on requesting reasonable adjustments.
Everyone experiences health differently: at Queen Mary, we want to support as far as is reasonably possible any member of staff who is disabled, or has a physical or mental health condition.