As an employer you have a duty to make reasonable adjustments for disabled employees. The aim of this duty is to enable disabled employees to remain in or return to work.
As well as employees, the duty also apples to job applicants, former employees and “workers”.
A person is disabled under Equality Act 2010 if they have a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long-term adverse effect their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.
See factsheet Is Your Employee Disabled under the Equality Act?
You will not be obliged to make reasonable adjustments unless you know, or ought reasonably to know, that your employee is disabled and is likely to be placed at a substantial disadvantage because of their disability.
You should take reasonable steps and have systems in place to find out the relevant information. For example, make enquiries to see if any reasonable adjustments are required for new employees. For existing employees, carry out back to work interviews to see if sickness absence may be related to a disability and investigate any changes in, or unusual, behaviour to see if this may be connected to a disability.
The duty can arise where your employee is placed at a substantial disadvantage in comparison with persons who are not disabled by:
This is interpreted widely and can include, for example, formal or informal policies, rules, practices, arrangements or qualifications including one-off decisions and actions.
You must take such steps as it is reasonable to take to avoid the disadvantage.
Examples of possible adjustments
It is for an employment tribunal to determine, objectively, whether a particular adjustment would have been reasonable to make in the circumstances. This is a fact sensitive question and will depend on various factors such as:
An adjustment is not reasonable if it will impose a disproportionate burden on you.
This is a form of discrimination and your employee may be entitled to make a claim at an employment tribunal. If successful the tribunal may order compensation or make an appropriate recommendation.