Workplace adjustment, previously referred to as a 'reasonable adjustment', is a change to a work process, practice, procedure or environment that enables an employee with disability to perform their job in a way that minimises the impact of their disability. Under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (DDA), employers are obligated to make adjustments to accommodate an individual’s disability, unless that adjustment would result in unjustifiable hardship. Unjustifiable hardship could be in the form of financial cost, an amendment to the physical building that is not possible due to council or other restrictions, or an adjustment that would disadvantage other employees.
Common workplace adjustments
Some of the more common workplace 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
- providing workplace arrangements which minimise the risk to staff if required personal protective equipment (PPE) is unable to be worn e.g. where a person has a physical or mental health illness or disability that makes wearing a mask unsuitable.
Staff requiring a workplace adjustment
You have identified as having a disability and require adjustments to your work environment so that you can work to your full potential.
As a staff member with a disability, you should discuss the following with your supervisor as soon as possible:
- how your disability/ illness or medical condition affects your work
- what adjustments you require, including:
- changes to physical work environment
- changes in the way you conduct your tasks
- amendments to your working hours.
- how this has worked in previous employment and what you can bring to the workplace for setting up (this could include specific software programs that you would set up through DOI).
Note: If you are unsure of the adjustments you require, your supervisor can arrange for an assessment of your work environment to determine your needs:
- meeting regularly to review the new arrangements and amend if necessary
- whether your work colleagues should be advised of the adjustments that will be put in place. If necessary, you can choose to do this yourself or have your supervisor discuss it
- complete an Workplace Adjustment Plan that outlines the above.
Note: When signing off on the Workplace Adjustment Plan, you will consent to who can access this information if you change roles within the University or you get a new supervisor. Your supervisor will give you a copy of the plan and one will be kept on your personal confidential injury management file.