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Reasonable Adjustments (Disability)

When should we be making reasonable adjustments?

Reasonable adjustments should be made whenever necessary. This may include:

  • Recruitment and selection: this may apply to the way in which the application is completed, interview or test conducted, or any other criteria applied. Please see Appendix 1 for further details
  • On starting employment: if a new employee is starting within your team you may need to make reasonable adjustments.
  • At any point during employment with us
  • When undertaking learning and development
  • On a change of role or transfer or working environment or conditions

Before considering/making a reasonable adjustment there are many important issues that need to be taken into consideration. As the manager please ensure that you complete the Reasonable Adjustment Action Plan with the employee (Appendix 2).

It can be difficult to assess whether an adjustment is reasonable, and a number of factors should be considered.

How much does a reasonable adjustment cost?

It is worth noting that most adjustments cost very little or nothing and are often a matter of flexibility or changing an approach to a working practice.

Where there is a cost involved in making the reasonable adjustment and you feel the cost could be prohibitive, you will need to consider:

  1. How expensive the adjustment is in relation to Carmarthenshire County Council as a whole. As a large organisation it might be difficult for us to defend the failure to make a reasonable adjustment on cost alone. Advice should be taken from HR in conjunction with your Head of Service if a reasonable adjustment appears too costly. Remember that in many cases grants can be reclaimed from Access to Work.
  2. Will the adjustment benefit other people as well as the disabled employee? For example, clearer signage, better lighting and automatic doors may require an initial monetary investment but they would benefit many people.

How effective is the proposed reasonable adjustment?

A reasonable adjustment may only be considered reasonable if it reduces the disadvantage that the employee is facing. You must always ask the employee what they think would help them do the job but remember that people living with a disability are not always the experts on all the support available to them. OH, may be able to advise further where required.

How practical is it to make the adjustment?

Adjustments will only be reasonable if they are practical to make.

In some cases, the type of adjustment required may not be practical because of other circumstances e.g. if some structural work is required to a listed building then this may not always be possible, although each case needs to be considered individually.

In some cases, you may need to consider different types of work by mutual agreement and this may be a reasonable adjustment.

How much disruption will it cause?

The amount of disruption that an adjustment would cause to service delivery will affect whether an adjustment is considered reasonable. Whilst most adjustments cause no disruption at all and only affect the way in which an individual works there may be cases where a proposed reasonable adjustment causes too much disruption to service delivery, in which case alternative adjustments will need to be considered.

How does it affect other people in the team?

It is your role as a manager to make it clear that equality does not mean treating everybody the same; in fact, to treat people fairly we must treat them differently according to their needs.

Other team members including other managers/senior manager should only be told about a person’s disability or any health condition with the explicit consent of the employee.

They will need to be informed of any reasonable adjustment that is made if this has an effect on them and their working environment

If a disabled person feels valued and comfortable in the environment where they work, they are more likely to disclose their disability to you as their manager and to colleagues.

Does it pose a health and safety hazard?

It is important to consider whether a reasonable adjustment puts the disabled employee and others at risk.

If an adjustment poses an unacceptable risk to the health and safety of either the disabled employee or any other employees, then it will never be reasonable. However, before a decision is made to refuse an adjustment on health and safety grounds you must ensure that you have all the facts and are not basing the refusal on assumptions. This means conducting a thorough risk assessment and seeking advice from a H&S Advisor.

The standards a disabled candidate and recruiting manager can expect from the Recruitment & HR Team

The Recruitment Team will respond promptly to requests for an application form in alternative formats.

Evidence of ability against the specified criteria will also be accepted in alternative formats, such as:

  • audio recording
  • a separate typed sheet
  • application form completed on behalf of the applicant (advocate)
  • written statements from staff in supported employment projects who have observed the applicant and can comment on their ability to meet the criteria of the Person Specification

The Recruitment Team will monitor applications from disabled candidates who would like their application considered in accordance with the disability confident scheme, to ensure that if they meet the essential criteria for the post (as detailed on the person specification) that they have been guaranteed an interview in line with the Authority’s commitment under the Disability Confident Scheme.

The Recruitment Team will also write to all candidates invited to interview asking if there are any access requirements or reasonable adjustments that need to be accommodated as part of the recruitment process and ensure the recruiting manager is informed promptly.

In addition, the Recruitment Team will ensure the recruiting manager has a named HR Advisor to advise them on implementing the reasonable adjustments for the selection process and prior to the candidate’s first day of employment. This may require assistance from the Occupational Health Unit and external organisations as appropriate.

The recruiting manager’s responsibilities

This section outlines the key considerations and responsibilities as a recruiting manager when you receive an application from a disabled candidate:

  • Person specification - When developing the person specification you should carefully consider what qualities are necessary to carry out the job and the use of short-listing criteria that relates to an applicant’s health and/or physical fitness should not be used, e.g. Replace “must be able to touch type at 80wpm” with “must be able to produce accurate reports using Microsoft office or replace “must be able to drive and have a clean current driving license” with ”must have the ability to travel”.
  • Advertisements - when a vacancy is advertised, consideration must be given to the functions of the job. Therefore, the advert should be developed using the information contained within the job specification and the "essential requirements" in the person specification.
  • Short-listing - you should always ensure it is clear at all stages of the recruitment process what the minimum criteria for selection for interview are, i.e. the essential criteria on the person specification.
  • Guaranteed Interview - The Council has signed up to the commitments of the Disability Confident Scheme which includes guaranteeing an interview to any disabled candidate who meets the essential criteria for a job. This includes any tests or assessments as part of the recruitment process. You must ensure that any reasonable adjustments are made during the assessment process so disabled applicants are not disadvantaged.
  • Interview arrangements - you should always hold interviews in a fully accessible venue. All candidates will be asked, when invited to interview or other assessments, whether they have any requirements for the interview, e.g. a candidate may ask if the interview can be scheduled at a time which means that they do not have to travel at rush hour. This is also the prompt for a disabled applicant to let you know if they have any access requirements or adjustments as part of the selection process, e.g. an English/British Sign Language interpreter, specialist equipment or a blue badge reserved parking space. It is good practice for recruiting managers to also telephone and email disabled candidates to ask if they have an access/adjustment requirement. If the disabled candidate specifies an access requirement or adjustment, then this must be accommodated.
  • Interview questions – ensure you frame your questions to draw out each candidate’s ability, skill and knowledge so you can assess and score against the person specification. There are certain interview do’s and don’ts, e.g.

Don’t ask:

“How will the pressure of tight deadlines affect your disability” or

 “What tasks can’t you do in the job profile because of your disability” or

“What happened to you and how did you get your disability”.

Don’t ask at the assessment stage whether there are any reasonable adjustments that need to be considered. This can be done at the offer stage to avoid the accusation of bias is the employee with a disability is subsequently not offered the job.

Do ask

“This job involves working to tight deadlines. Tell us about situations where you’ve been given a tight deadline to meet and how you ensured you met this” or

“How will you perform the duties outlined in the job-profile?”

  • Selection - your assessment should be based on the applicant's ability or potential to carry out a task. A disabled applicant should be assessed as if the adjustment required to do the job has already been made.
  • Successful applicants – Speak to the successful candidate following the offer of employment and ask whether there are any adjustments that you need to consider to support the applicant to undertake the role successfully.
  • Unsuccessful applicants - All unsuccessful applicants must be offered the opportunity for feedback about why. This should be given positively, with the aim of assisting the individual with their continued job search.
  • Induction Period - If the disabled applicant is successful, prior to joining the team, you should ensure that any agreed adjustments have been made, e.g. equipment has been purchased, etc. Use the template at Appendix 2 as a tool for discussion before a disabled applicant starts work.

Make sure you tell the employee what reasonable adjustments you have already made and what equipment or adjustments you may be waiting to be implemented.

Also check that all induction processes are accessible.

Once the applicant has commenced employment ask the new employee to keep a note of how any reasonable adjustments made are working and of any improvements that may be needed. Agree regular dates to review all reasonable adjustments using Appendix 2.

Finally, as with all new employees, make sure you let them know what you expect and to ensure that they understand your workplace policies and procedures.

Don't make assumptions

Don’t make assumptions about what support an employee might need. You will need to discuss any specific needs or adjustments with the employee

Engage with people

Dwelling on definitions and diagnoses is unlikely to be helpful as too often, a diagnostic label leads to preconceptions as to what a person can and cannot do. The most productive approach is to talk to the person, get a clear understanding of what they can do, rather than what they can’t do and so understand problems or issues and work on the basis of the person’s capabilities.

Talk at an early stage

The earlier you notice that an employee is experiencing difficulties or requires an adjustment the better for all concerned. Your early actions can help prevent the situation becoming worse.

Identify early signs

Some of the key things to look out for are poor performance, tiredness and increased sickness absence. Increased use of alcohol, drugs or smoking. The employee might start turning up late or experience problems with colleagues. Regular work planning sessions or informal chats about progress provide opportunities to find out about any problems an employee may be having.

Manage the team

Be aware of the impact one employee’s disability could have on the rest of the team, whether as a result of reasonable adjustments that have been made or because a person’s particular symptoms or behaviour. You need to ensure that hurtful gossip or inappropriate behaviour are dealt with promptly and effectively. (refer to the behavioural standards guidance)


Communicate in an open, matter of fact way. You should agree with the person whether, and precisely what, they wish colleagues to be told. Do not be afraid to talk about this with the employee.

Keep in touch

Managers often fear that contact with someone who is off sick will be seen as harassment. However, the overwhelming view from employees who are absent due to physical or mental health conditions or illness is that they wish to keep in touch in some way.


Page updated: 21/09/2021 09:27:19