When is a reasonable adjustment unreasonable?

Nick Singer

14 August 2018

What are reasonable adjustments?

The employer has a duty to make reasonable adjustments when they have knowledge about their employee's disability.

These steps are to avoid the substantial disadvantage:

• Where a provision, criterion or practice puts the disabled employee at a substantial disadvantage.

• where a physical feature puts the disabled employee at a substantial disadvantage; this includes removing the physical feature in question, altering it or providing a reasonable means of avoiding it.

The employer cannot justify a failure to make a reasonable adjustment; where the duty arises, the issue is whether or not the adjustment is ‘reasonable’ and this is an objective question for the courts to ultimately determine.

This is the question we put to expert barrister Nick Singer.

Video Transcript

Hi there, when is a reasonable adjustment in the workplace unreasonable? now my name is Mark Ferron, and this is the question I put to employment barrister Nick Singer.

The number of different scenarios makes that almost impossible to answer, ultimately for a tribunal to decide, but there are a number of factors that can be taken into consideration by a tribunal. Previously the Disability Discrimination Act had a list but the new Equality Act has got rid of the list. But generally speaking, if there was a very very cheap solution that would completely get rid of the substantial disadvantage that the disabled person goes through, then it would be unreasonable. So if for example you've got a man with no arms and there's a provision that means all employees have to type obviously that puts a man with no arms at a substantial disadvantage and if there was dictation software that you could buy for 30 pounds that would completely get rid of that disadvantage probably be unreasonable not to buy that software.

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