What are Reasonable Adjustments?

February 14, 2018

The Equality Act 2010 states employers have a duty to make reasonable adjustments to ensure employees with a disability are not treated less favourably at work because of their disability. We get asked regularly by our clients what is a reasonable adjustment and how far do we have to go? Tim discusses. 

By Tim Frear

There is no simple answer – the only person who can make the final decision on whether you have made a reasonable adjustment is the tribunal after a claim is heard. Most employees are fair and will work with you to find a suitable alternative, but be aware the key word is ‘reasonable’.

One thing we do recommend before making any decisions on changes to an employee’s job, environment or surrounding is to have an open conversation with the employee. They will know their condition better than you, they will have either been living with it for a while or will be getting support on living with their disability. They will be able to advise on what needs adjusting to make sure they’re able to complete the job they were employed to do.

As an employer, you must look at the way things are done in the workplace to make it easier for the employee to do/apply for the job. This can include making physical changes to the office or premises such as installing a ramp or widening doors or providing extra aids or support for an employee.

There are are many adjustments you can make that aren’t costly but have a big impact. 

These can include:

    • Reorganising the layout of the office to allow easier access for wheelchairs
    • Allowing someone with a social anxiety disorder to have their own desk instead of hot-desking.
    • Providing a special keyboard for an employee with arthritis.


It’s advisable to receive professional advice on what you need to do, usually by referring the employee to an occupational health team. Many disability charities can also offer support and guidance on their specific areas of expertise, for example, Mind are a great support if you need advice on any mental health support.

Although employers have a duty to make reasonable adjustments to their workplace, knowing how far to go will usually depend on budgets, premises and resources available.

The Tribunal Service look at all circumstances when establishing whether ‘reasonable’ has been met, this will differ for large organisations versus small organisations. For example, if you rent premises it may not be reasonable to adjust the building layout.

Employers cannot transfer the costs to the employee, so you must be aware of the costs associated with the adjustments. If an employee needs further assistance, for example transport subsidy they may be able to get a grant from Access to Work.

If you feel you have made reasonable adjustments but your employee feels further adjustments are needed, we would encourage communication between the two parties to come to some agreement, noting the adjustments must only be ‘reasonable.

If you’d like more information on making reasonable adjustments to your workplace, just get in touch with the team and we’d be happy to help!

Leeds based HR180 is a team of superheroes in HR Outsourcing, Projects and Consultancy committed to work in partnership with organisations of all sizes to establish working policies to go above and beyond Employment Law requirements, to protect both employees and employers alike. We love to hear from you, so call us on 0113 287 8150 or hit the Rescue Me button.

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