Reasonable Adjustments: Modifying the work environment
Developing a flexible workplace is one example of a reasonable adjustment that can benefit all employees. A flexible workplace is one where managers and team members can work together to decide what working arrangements will be most effective.
Some examples of flexible work practices include:
- Flexible start and finish times;
- Flexible rostering or scheduling;
- Flexible leave arrangements;
- Part-time work;
- Rostered days off or time off in lieu;
- Regular or occasional working from home;
- Nine day fortnights/compressed working week.
The aim of a flexible workplace is to create a working environment that is mutually beneficial to both the organisation and the employee.
Flexible workplaces can lead to improved productivity, reduced absenteeism and employee turnover, improved morale and greater employee loyalty.
Companies can significantly reduce their employee turnover and the costs associated with this by retaining staff through the introduction and promotion of flexible work practices. These practices do not have to be difficult or expensive - there are a wide range of flexible work arrangements that can be introduced to an organisation, with little or no cost.
Many people with disability do not need adjustments, and those that do will generally be able to tell you about the kinds of adjustments that will be effective for them.
How do I know what is reasonable when making adjustments?
What is considered ‘reasonable’ will depend on the facts and circumstances of the particular situation.
Under the DDA, an adjustment is considered reasonable unless it causes “unjustifiable hardship” to the employer or organisation. Unjustifiable hardship could be in the form of significant financial cost, an amendment to the physical building that is not possible due to council or other restrictions, or an adjustment that would unfairly disadvantage other employees.
There are a number of factors to take into account when considering whether an adjustment is reasonable:
- The effectiveness of the adjustment in assisting the employee with disability to perform their job;
- The practicability of the adjustment;
- The financial or other costs of the adjustment;
- The extent of the organisation’s financial and other resources;
- The extent of any disruption caused;
- The availability of financial or other assistance to help make the adjustment (e.g. the Employment Assistance Fund);
- The nature of your business activities and the size of your organisation.
For more information on reasonable adjustments visit http://www.jobaccess.gov.au/