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Where does the duty to make reasonable adjustments come from?

By Jodie Hill and Crystal Boyde of Thrive Law

Published 4 February 2024

Sketch office situation with people with various disabilities

Employers are required to put reasonable adjustments in place where they know that an applicant, employee, worker, volunteer or intern has or could have a disability and because of this, is placed at a substantial disadvantage at work. This occurs at the point of knowing the impact of the disability on the individual, which could be as early as a job interview.

This duty is set out in section 20 and Schedule 9 of the Equality Act 2010 (“EqA”) and essentially requires the company to adjust something in the workplace to assist in alleviating the substantial disadvantage faced by the disabled person in their role.

TIP – there is no legal requirement for the individual to disclose a disability or for a formal diagnosis for the duty to arise

Employers should not assume what could constitute a reasonable adjustment. They should ask the individual or involve their GP or an Occupational Health provider to obtain medical advice and then speak to an employment lawyer to help determine this legal question.

Whilst an individual’s GP can provide advice in respect of their impairment, they are not always best placed to provide recommendations in respect of potential reasonable adjustments in the workplace. This is where Occupational Health comes in, as workplace-focused advice in line with an individual’s impairment, can be provided. To get the most out of any Occupational Health service, employers need to ensure they ask relevant questions when they make the referral. It is also helpful to instruct an Occupational Health provider who specialises in the individual’s impairment (especially in cases of mental, physical impairment and neurological conditions) so they can apply their knowledge and experience in the assessment and subsequent report.

For more advice on what a disability is, when a duty arises, risks, practical tips, types of adjustments etc. read the full article here Reasonable Adjustments in the Workplace – iOH – The Association of Occupational Health and Wellbeing Professionals

Headshot of Jodie Hill, Thrive Law
Jodie Hill | LinkedIn

Managing Partner, Thrive Law

Headshot of Crystal Boyde, Thrive Law
Crystal Boyde | LinkedIn

Associate Solicitor, Thrive Law

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