An individual who has a disability or long term health condition may require an adjustment in the workplace to enable them to efficiently and effectively do their job. You may have already have had adjustments during the recruitment process or you may request them only once you have started in your role. Either way it is imperative to ask for what you need.
A Legal Duty
The Equalities Act 2010 states:
"Employers have to make "reasonable adjustments" to ensure that a disabled employee was not treated less favourably than their non-disabled counterpart."
Recently employers have started referring to reasonable adjustments as workplace adjustments.
What Is The Purpose Of An Adjustment?
Adjustments are also made for you once you are in the workplace to ensure that you can perform the role, as well as to demonstrate and fulfil your potential.
- Review your adjustment on an on-going basis to ensure that it continues to be fit for purpose.
- Your adjustment affords you to be appraised and assessed on an equal basis to your peers.
- Not having an adjustment may lead to a poor performance review; don't let this happen.
Types Of Adjustment
Adjustments may also vary depending on the different situations. You may require something different during the interview process in comparison to when you join the organisation. Equally, your needs may change over time and with it the corresponding support and adjustments.
Types of adjustments that may be required include:
- Provision of assistive technology.
- Use of an interpreter.
- Flexible working.
- Adjustments to the layout of the work space.
- Become an expert in what you need.
- Don't be afraid to ask for what you require to be able to do your role.
- Be open to suggestions from others who are expert in this area.
Requesting And Implementing Adjustments: The Recruitment Process
To ensure that the adjustment is implemented efficiently, your responsibilities include:
- Informing the employer what you require.
- Helping the employer to understand your needs as fully as possible.
- Communicate your needs as early as possible in the application process.
- Be timely in any correspondence.
- Make yourself available for conversations or for an orientation visit.
- Provide possible solutions - not just problems.
To implement your adjustments effectively, the organisation's responsibilities include:
- Providing you with the opportunity to inform them about your requirements early on in the process.
- Engaging in open discussions with you and listen to your requirements.
- Respond to correspondence and answer any questions or concerns.
- Being realistic about what is reasonable and what can be achieved.
It is understandable that some employers may feel uncomfortable talking to you about your disability and associated needs as this is potentially very personal and sensitive information. By engaging in open dialogue with the employer, you can help them to have these essential conversations more easily. You can help them to better understand what you require and why. One way of approaching this is to explain the consequences of not receiving the support or adjustments that you require.
- Engaging in open dialogue with the employer will help you to have the necessary conversations.
- Explain the consequences of not receiving the support or adjustments that you require.
- Be reasonable and remember adjustments are there to level the playing field not to provide you with an advantage.
Requesting And Implementing Adjustments: Joining The Organisation
In some cases the adjustments you had during the recruitment process can be used as a basis for what you need in the work place. If not you will need to initiate a conversation about what you require.
As with the requesting support and adjustments for the recruitment process, it is a two way process involving both you and your new employer. Open and honest conversations are required to establish how you can best fulfil your role.
To ensure that you get what you need to enable you to do your role, you will need to:
- Be clear about what you need and don't be afraid to ask for it.
- Make yourself available for discussions and meetings.
- Involve your line manager as they will be involved in managing you on a daily basis.
- Use your own expertise to help your employer understand what you required.
- If you are unsure of what you require, organise a formal assessment.
- Provide timely feedback on the effectiveness of their adjustment.
- Aim to have the adjustments and support in place before you join the organisation.
To ensure that your adjustment is implemented efficiently your employer must:
- Engage in conversation about what you need rather than jump to conclusions.
- Be realistic about what is achievable.
- Involve your manager in the discussions about work place adjustments and support.
- Review the adjustments regularly with you to ensure that they continue to meet your needs.
- Be sensitive and respect what is confidential.
- Ask for what you actually need - even if this is different to what you had during the recruitment process.
- Become an expert in your requirements and be confident to articulate these.
- Provide timely feedback on the effectiveness of the adjustment.
Who To Contact About Adjustments
During the recruitment process it will usually be someone from the recruitment team who will liaise with you regarding your needs. Where as once an offer has been made it would be advisable to talk to your line manager.
Depending on what adjustments are required, other departments throughout the organisation may be involved, including IT, Facilities, Health and Safety, and HR. It may be sometimes be appropriate to involve occupational health professionals in your discussions.
- Once offered a job, ensure your line manager is involved in all discussions about your adjustments.
- Ask to involve the relevant experts if you need advice on specific areas such as technology.
What Happens If My Condition Changes?
You may require advice from others such as occupational health professionals or organisations who specialise in advising and assessing workplace adjustments. Be confident in asking for support to help you work out what you require.
- Acknowledge if your condition is changing and the impact on your work.
- Discuss it sooner or later with your line manager.
- Think about what it is you are going to need and be clear in what you are ask for.
Financial Costs Of Adjustments
There is external funding available from Access to Work (AtW); this is government funding covering the additional costs of employing disabled people.
- Familiarize yourself with how Access to Work operates and what it can fund.
- Ask for what you required, regardless of cost.
- Ask your employer for help in completing any forms.
I Need An Adjustment But Don't Wish To Tell Them About My Disability
However you must understand that it is difficult for an employer to provide what you need if you don't tell them.
Rather than discussing your disability, focus on the impact your condition has on your ability to undertake the role.
- Decide what you want to tell an employer and how you are going to articulate this.
- Practice sharing information with family and friends to build your confidence to have these conversations.
- Focus on the adjustment you require and why you require it.
Steps To Success
- Expertise. Become an expert in what you require.
- Understanding. Help employers to understand what you need and why.
- Identify the stakeholders. Ensure that all key stakeholders are involved in the adjustment process.
- Cost is no barrier. Do not let cost considerations deter you from asking for what you really need.
- Be reasonable. Ask just for what you need.
- Feedback. Provide timely feedback on the effectiveness of the adjustment.