Duty to make Reasonable Adjustments

This web page should be read in conjunction with the web page Discrimination - Protected Characteristics 

What is the duty to make reasonable adjustments?

Employers and service providers are under a duty to make reasonable adjustments to a person with a disability under section 20 of the Equality Act 2010 (EqA) and occurs where:

  • a provision, criterion or practice (PCP) applied by an employer
  • or physical feature

places the disabled person at a substantial disadvantage.

The duty is also engaged where a disabled person would, but for the provision of an auxiliary aid, be put at a substantial disadvantage in comparison with those who are not disabled.

The duty to make reasonable adjustments applies to employers in selection and interview procedures and the premises used for such procedures, as well as to job offers, contractual arrangements and working conditions.

Service providers are under a duty to make reasonable adjustments to customers, clients and [prospective] workers or employees with a disability where any physical feature of the premises occupied by an employer or an organisation, places the disabled person at a substantial disadvantage.

The EqA envisages reasonable adjustments being made in the following ways:

  • changes to policies, practices and procedures
  • providing auxiliary aids and services
  • overcoming barriers caused by physical features.

When considering if services are unreasonably difficult for disabled people to use, service providers should take account of whether the: time; inconvenience; effort; discomfort or loss of dignity in using the service would be considered unreasonable by other people if they had to endure similar difficulties.

Failure to make reasonable adjustments cannot be objectively justified.

Can employers ask pre-employment health questions?

The EqA prohibits employers from asking questions about health, other than for prescribed reasons to applicants.  If you are an applicant, the EqA states that your health must not be questioned:

  • either before offering work
  • where the employer is not in a position to offer work
  • before including a person in a pool of applicants from whom the employer intends (when in a position to do so) to select a person to whom to offer work.

It also applies whether the employer (or someone acting on behalf of the employer) asks a question about that person from a third party (eg for a former employer by way of a reference request).

Does an employer have to know about a disability?

An employer cannot be liable for failure to make reasonable adjustments under section 21 of the EqA unless it knew, or should have known, about an employee's disability.

What remedies are available for failure to make reasonable adjustments?

If an employee believes that an employer (or other person) has failed to make reasonable adjustments they can bring an employment tribunal claim.

Employment tribunals can award unlimited compensation, which can include an award for injury to feeling and financial loss because of the discrimination.

How long do you have to bring an employment tribunal claim?

An employment tribunal claim for failure to make reasonable adjustments must be received by a tribunal within 3 months of the complaining act (ie 3 months less 1 day).  This can be the last act in a series of detrimental acts over a period of time.  

The time limit can be extended during Acas early conciliation, which must be started before the time limit has expired.

The time limit is a strict one and will only be extended in certain circumstances.

The material contained in this web page is provided for general purposes only and does not constitute legal or other professional advice. Appropriate legal advice should be sought for specific circumstances and before action is taken.

Contact me

Email: marc@marcjonessolicitor.com

Telephone: 07434 740657

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