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Factsheet: Reasonable Adjustments for Disabled Employees

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 your employees, the duty also apples to job applicants, former employees and “workers”.

  1. Is your employee disabled?
  2. What if your employee does not tell you about their disability?
  3. When does the duty arise?
  4. What is a Provision, Criterion or Practice?
  5. What should you do? 
  6. What is reasonable?
  7. What if you fail to make a reasonable adjustment?

 Is your employee disabled?

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?

What if your employee does not tell you about their disability?

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 your 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.

When does the duty arise?

The duty can arise where your employee is placed at a substantial disadvantage in comparison with persons who are not disabled by:

  • A provision, criterion or practice (PCP) applied by you
  • A physical feature of your business premises (e.g. the design or construction of a building, feature of an approach to, exit from or access to a building, a fixture or fitting, furniture, equipment etc); or
  • Your failure to provide an auxiliary aid

What is a Provision, Criterion or Practice?

This is interpreted widely and can include, for example, formal or informal policies, rules, practices, arrangements or qualifications including one-off decisions and actions.

What should you do?

You must take such steps as it is reasonable to take to avoid the disadvantage.

Examples of possible adjustments

  • Adjustments to premises
  • Giving some of your disabled employee’s duties to another person
  • Transferring your disabled employee to fill an existing vacancy
  • Changing your disabled employee’s working hours or place of work
  • Allowing your disabled employee to be absent for rehabilitation, assessment or treatment
  • Providing training or mentoring
  • Obtaining or modifying equipment
  • Modifying procedures for testing or assessment
  • Providing supervision or other support
  • Modifying disciplinary or grievance procedures

What is reasonable?

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:

  • The extent to which the adjustment would have helped to reduce or remove the disadvantage
  • The extent to which the adjustment was practicable
  • The financial and other costs of making the adjustment
  • The extent to which the step would have disrupted your activities
  • The financial and other resources available to you
  • The availability of external financial or other assistance
  • The nature of your activities and the size of the undertaking

An adjustment is not reasonable if it will impose a disproportionate burden on you.

What if you fail to make a reasonable adjustment?

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.

To find out how we can help you with reasonable adjustments for disabled employees, contact us today on 01273 609911, or email

Martin Searle Solicitors, 9 Marlborough Place, Brighton, BN1 1UB
T: 01273 609 991

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