Reasonable accommodation is used to describe the creation of an environment that is intended to ensure equality of opportunity to meet:
- the particular practices of an employee’s religious or ethical beliefs
- the employee’s needs in relation to a disability
- the employee’s needs in relation to family commitments.
Reasonable accommodation can entail modifications or adjustments which will, for example, allow a job applicant with a disability to participate more equally in a workplace. It can involve physical adjustments such as ensuring access to a building or modifying the way a job is done, for example allocating aspects of the job to another employee.
Making reasonable accommodation enables you to confidently recruit, retain and support disabled people within your organisation. The Human Rights Act creates an obligation for an employer to take reasonable measures to meet an employees needs. The Act does not require changes that would unreasonably disrupt an employer’s activities.
In some circumstances, it will be appropriate to make some adjustments as a general response to the needs of all disabled people. For example, providing your employers with disability awareness training or when redesigning your website taking accessibility into account. The advantages of looking at inclusive opportunities include:
- help you anticipate adjustments that will be beneficial to many people, including those with disabilities
- save money on retrofitting
- enhance your reputation as a forward thinking, disability- friendly and proactive organisation or business
- ensure consideration of disability becomes part of “business as usual.”
In other circumstances, you will need to take account of individual needs. It’s important not to make assumptions about what someone needs in the way of reasonable accommodation. Always ask the person, rather than trying to guess what would be appropriate. Adjustments are as individual as the people who need them and the circumstances in which they are used. The best approach is to build the question of reasonable accommodation into all your employment policies and practices at recruitment and within regular line management processes.
Most reasonable accommodation don’t cost anything at all – just a change in attitude. For others that do involve a cost, the Government’s support fund and workplace modification grant through Workbridge might be able to help.
Centre for Inclusive Learning Support have just completed a ‘Employability and Disability’ new web resource called ‘Use My Ability’(www.usemyability.org.uk). The free to use resource offers practical advice for disabled students to overcome barriers in education, so they can achieve employability skills as a learning outcome.
In this section:
- What is considered reasonable?
- Examples of reasonable accommodation in the workplace
- Other examples of reasonable accommodation