Failure to make reasonable adjustments

Employers have an obligation to make reasonable adjustments to ensure that those with physical and mental health conditions are not disadvantaged at work, when compared with others.

It is important to note that the requirement to make reasonable adjustments applies to more than just employees. The obligation to make reasonable adjustments could potentially extend to job applicants, apprentices and contract workers.

An employer will not be obliged to make reasonable adjustments unless it knows or ought reasonably to know that the individual is disabled and likely to be placed at a substantial disadvantage because of their disability.

There is only an obligation to make reasonable adjustments and therefore employers do not have to implement every request made by those with physical and mental health conditions. Whether an adjustment is reasonable will depend on the circumstances of the matter and the resources of the employer. For example, what is reasonable for a large international bank and what is reasonable for a small independent hardware shop will be very different. Therefore, a careful and considered assessment of each request should be made. A thoughtful employer should also consider potential needs as soon as they find out about a physical or mental health condition, to enable them to discuss any reasonable adjustments with the individual in a constructive and pre-emptive manner.

The following are examples of reasonable adjustments that could be made by an employer:  

  • New equipment such as access ramps for someone who has to use a wheelchair, or a stool for someone working at a till who has a disability which causes them pain when standing for long periods of time.
  • Re-assignment of customer facing roles or regular breaks for someone who has depression and anxiety, if they are struggling to deal with the public.
  • A later start time for someone who has to complete morning rehabilitation exercises to assist their mobility throughout the day.

It is often the case that a number of reasonable adjustments can be made relatively easily by the employer which will have a large positive effect on the individual.

Please do not hesitate to contact the employment team at Curzon Green if you are an employer requiring advice on reasonable adjustments or you are an individual who believes that an employer has unreasonably refused to make an adjustment.

Our Dispute Resolution Team