Reasonable adjustments in the workplace

Reasonable adjustments provide people with the opportunity to perform to the best of their ability and be as effective as possible in their role.

Therefore, it may be necessary to make a few changes to the work environment to give an employee with disability the best possible chance for success.

Many people with disability do not need adjustments. Those that do will generally be able to tell you what adjustments will work for them. They may already have the equipment with them and all you need to do is help set it up.

Common reasonable adjustments

Some of the more common reasonable adjustments in the workplace are:

  • providing flexible working hours, such as working part-time or starting and finishing later
  • moving a person with disability to a different office, shop or site closer to their home or onto the ground floor, or allowing them to work from home
  • moving furniture, widening a doorway or providing a ramp so that a person using a wheelchair or other mobility aid can get around comfortably and safely
  • redistributing to other team members some minor duties (ie not inherent requirements of a job) that a person with disability finds difficult to do
  • allowing a person with disability time off during working hours for necessary appointments
  • providing extra training, mentoring, supervision and support
  • buying or adapting equipment. For example, voice activated software for someone who is blind or has low vision, a phone that can be amplified for a person who is hard of hearing, or a digital recorder for someone who has difficulty taking written notes
  • structuring tests and interviews so a person with disability can prove their ability to do the job
  • providing Auslan interpreters for a person who is Deaf, or readers who read documents for someone who is blind or has low vision.

How do I know what is reasonable when making adjustments?

Employers have to provide adjustments for a person who has disclosed a disability unless it would cause 'unjustifiable hardship' to the employer.

Deciding what is 'reasonable' will depend on the individual circumstances.

Unjustifiable hardship can include significant financial cost, a building amendment that is not possible because of restrictions, or one that would unfairly disadvantage other employees.

Note: the financial status of the whole University is measured and not just your specific area.

When considering whether an adjustment is reasonable, you need to consider the:

  • effectiveness of the adjustment in helping the employee with disability perform their job
  • practicability of the adjustment
  • financial or other costs of the adjustment
  • extent of the organisation's resources
  • extent of any disruption caused
  • other support available (e.g. the Employment Assistance Fund)
  • nature of your business and the size of your organisation.

Who is responsible for funding adjustments?

The DDA obliges employers to make adjustments to the workplace or working arrangements so a person with disability can do their job.

Different ways to fund reasonable adjustments include:

1. Employment Assistance Fund (EAF) through job access

The EAF repays the cost of work-related adjustments and services for people with disability. It is available for people who are about to start a new job or who are already working. This includes (but is not limited to:

  • adjustments to the physical work environment (for example wheelchair ramp, stairlift)
  • adjustments to work vehicles (for example hand controls)
  • adaptive equipment in the workplace (for example Braille device, lifting equipment)
  • communication devices (for example software, PDA's, voice recorders, smartphones and laptops)
  • Auslan interpreting
  • live captioning services
  • specialist services For employees with specific learning disorders and mental health conditions
  • (eg one-on-one training)
  • disability awareness training
  • deafness awareness training
  • mental health First aid training.

Who is eligible?

Employers, people with disability and employment service providers may apply for assistance. You can also phone Job Access for help with any questions you may have, on 1800 464 800.

Workplace assessments

The EAF conducts free workplace assessments for eligible employees.

2. Your budget area

If your staff member is not eligible for Job Access, then your budget area funds the reasonable adjustment up to a maximum of $1000 after which then the central funds available will cover the rest. See Reasonable Adjustment Procedure (section under funding) for further information

Note: most adjustments cost $500 or less.

3. Facilities and Services

If job access funding will not cover the full amount, changes to work areas that are common property, for example ramps, external markers can be funded by Facilities and Services.

Contact the Staff disABILITY Consultant for further information on the best option for funding and how you go about organise this.