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Duty to Make Reasonable Adjustments - Expert Comments

Gillian Cumming
24th Nov 2009

Adjustments can be made to any employment arrangements or to any physical feature of the workplace.

As an employer you have a duty to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to ensure that a disabled person is not put to a substantial disadvantage in the workplace in terms of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, as amended (DDA).

 

Section 1 sets out the definition of ‘disability’ and ‘disabled person’:

 

“… a person has a disability for the purposes of this Act if he has a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on his ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities …”

 

Section 4A(1) sets out the duty to make ‘reasonable adjustments’:

 

“Where -

(a) a provision, criterion or practice applied by or on behalf of an employer, or

(b) any physical feature of premises occupied by the employer,

places the disabled person concerned at a substantial disadvantage in comparison with persons who are not disabled, it is the duty of the employer to take such steps as it is reasonable, in all the circumstances of the case, for him to have to take in order to prevent the provision, criterion or practice, or feature having that effect …”

 

Adjustments can be made to any employment arrangements or to any physical feature of the workplace. Examples of adjustments that may need to be made include: allocating some work to another employee (temporarily or permanently), permitting a later start time, modifying premises and providing modified equipment. In each case what is a ‘reasonable adjustment’ will depend on the relevant and particular circumstances.

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