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Want to stay on the right side of the law? We support businesses and public authorities and help them to promote good practice.
 
 

Reasonable adjustments

Disability

What you need to know

 

The Reasonable Adjustment Duty and The Disability Discrimination Act


In responding to employers’ queries, we stress the need for the employer to talk initially to the disabled person about the adjustments they require, after all, it is the disabled person who is managing their disability and may have been doing so for some time.

The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) requires that employers introduce reasonable adjustments in respect of applicants and employees who are disabled. This is with a view to ensuring that disabled people are not disadvantaged and enjoy equality of opportunity in employment. There are a number of factors that employers should consider when determining what is a reasonable adjustment.

These include the:

effectiveness of the step in preventing disadvantage

Will it work? Will it enable an absent employee to return to work? It is unlikely to be reasonable to make an adjustment that would have little or no benefit in overcoming the disadvantage.
 

practicality of the step

Steps that are easy to implement are likely to be more reasonable to take than ones that are difficult to implement – but this does not mean that it can never be reasonable to take difficult steps.
 

financial/other costs required, and the extent of any disruption it may cause

Although cost can be a factor in determining the reasonableness of an adjustment, potential adjustments should not be dismissed out of hand before being fully costed.
 

extent of the employer’s financial and other resources

The general principle being that employers with larger financial resources are expected to consider potentially more expensive
adjustments.
 

availability of financial or other help

For example, Access to Work Scheme / permitting the person to use their own adapted equipment (e.g. an adapted car) / seeking information and advice from knowledgeable sources.
 

nature of the employer’s activities, the size of his/her undertaking and the effect on other employees

For example, if employees work in a small confined factory area and a disabled person requires a high level of permanent heat this could impact negatively on other employees.
 

adjustments made for other disabled staff

For example, if a number of disabled staff need the same relatively expensive adjustment (e.g. wider doorways) this may reinforce the reasonableness of the adjustment.
 

extent to which the disabled person is willing to co-operate

To be effective, adjustments will generally require the co-operation of the disabled person.
 
 


Assessing and balancing these factors will call for the employer to exercise his or her judgment. It will not necessarily be easy, but it may be made easier by taking these steps:

  • Consult the disabled person about his or her needs
  • Obtain expert advice, where appropriate;
  • Refer to the guidance given in the DDA Code of Practice issued by the Equality Commission
  • Use trial periods to test the effectiveness of potential solutions
  • Keep an open mind to possible solutions
  • Review adjustments periodically

Further guidance is available by contacting our Employer enquiry line 028 90 890 888 or email edenquiries@equalityni.org

Further information:




 
Equal opportunities
< Employers and service providers
 
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