Importance of Reasonable Adjustments

The Importance of Reasonable Adjustments – Inclusivity In the Workplace For Those With Disability

The Importance of Reasonable Adjustments - Inclusivity In the Workplace For Those With Disability

Huge gains have been made in the fight to break down barriers that have stood in the way of people with disability entering the workforce. Societal attitudes have improved significantly, meanwhile the Disability Discrimination Act has aided in removing unjustified roadblocks during an advertised job’s recruitment process. These are positive steps towards facilitating more inclusive working environments, but there are still issues that many with physical impairments may face throughout their working lives. It is therefore important that we open up a dialogue with employers about implementing reasonable adjustments that facilitate participation by people with a disability.

What Do We Mean By 'Reasonable Adjustments'?

Just like any other relationship, the one between employer and employee must be based on mutual respect. This means both parties should be open to the ideas and opinions of the other, so when we talk about reasonable adjustments, we are talking about implementation of basic accommodations that improve the working conditions of the employee without impacting negatively on the employer or other employees. These can be small changes to the physical environment, or adjustments to certain working practices.

Examples of Common Reasonable Adjustments

Physical adjustments and assistive technologies may include:
  • Adapted equipment, such as chairs, keyboards, computer screens for those with vision impairment, voice activated software.
  • Adjustable and lowering desks, non-fluorescent lighting in consideration of those that suffer from migraines, modified entrances and thoroughfares, workplace layout.

Adjustments to working practices may include:
  • Flexible working hours.
  • Working from home (which has become a popular option for many businesses and employees since the COVID-19 pandemic).
  • Negotiated reallocation of tasks among employees.

These are just some examples of workplace adjustments that should not require a significant overhaul of a business’s infrastructure or work practices. It is true that employers are not required to undertake adjustments if they can prove that such changes would be too costly, difficult or disruptive to the business. This is known as ‘unjustifiable hardship’. But most changes to a work environment need not be so significant, nor should they be considered as only relating to an employee’s individual circumstances. In fact, it can provide an opportunity to make the work environment better thought out, and more comfortable and accommodating to all employees.

Who Is Responsible for Implementing Reasonable Adjustments?

As we mentioned earlier, these are often negotiated between employees and employers, but ultimately it is the responsibility of the employer to consider the health-related needs of their employees. While there is a legal obligation for some measures such as wheelchair ramps and emergency exits, there also may need to be additional adjustments made in order to accommodate a staff member/s with disability.

In some cases this will mean the employer will have to cover the cost of certain adjustments and assistive technologies, but it is worth making clear that these costs often pale in comparison to the value that you bring to the company as an employee. It is also worth mentioning that raising the disability standards of any workplace is likely to open up the talent pool for future job applicants.

Additionally, in Australia, funding grants are available to assist in providing a more accessible format for employees with disability. These can be applied for through the Employment Assistance Fund.

Negotiating working conditions with your boss or manager can be challenging for anybody, let alone those who require extra measures to be taken to accommodate them. But as a person with disability, you are entitled to raise any issues and suggestions that can lead to a more inclusive workplace.

In addition, The Disability Discrimiation Act adds a layer of protection, as workplaces which refuse to make reasonable adjustments can be reported as being discriminatory. This allows for people with a verified disability to be provided equal employment opportunities, without the fear of discrimination due to their disability.

What Does the Employer Get Out of It?

What Does the Employer Get Out of It

Some employers may have more rigid work practices, and may not be open to the different ways in which some people work.

However, it is always worth appealing to your employer to make adjustments, should you have any special requirements. After all, they hired you for your talent. They hired you because of the value that you will bring to the team. And if you are planning to remain at a workplace for a number of years, whatever short-term cost or inconvenience may be required to make the conditions more amenable to your needs, they will quickly be offset by your contributions to the business. A happy and looked-after workforce is a productive one.

Furthermore, once accommodations have been made, this will make any company far more competitive in the job market, as it will become a more attractive place of employment for future employees.

NDIS Plan Management

Some may choose to take on the responsibility of managing workplace adjustments themselves, whether that be because they are best placed to know their requirements, because they work for a small company, or because they are self employed. In such cases the employee is likely to require help navigating the administrative side of NDIS support. This help can be found through NDIS Plan Management, a service offered through Onboard Supports. These management plans are aimed at removing the administrative burden from people with disabilities, allowing them to get on with life while we manage budgets, pay invoices, and ensure everything associated with NDIS support runs smoothly.

Contact us today to learn more about how we can help.