What is a workplace adjustment?
Previously referred to as a 'reasonable adjustment', a workplace adjustment is a change to a work process, practice, procedure or environment that enables an employee with disability to perform their job in a way that minimises the impact of their disability.
Workplace adjustments allow a person to:
- perform the inherent or essential requirements of their job safely in the workplace
- have equal opportunity in recruitment processes, promotion and ongoing development
- experience equitable terms and conditions of employment
- maximise productivity
Under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (DDA), employers are obligated to make adjustments to accommodate an individual’s disability, unless that adjustment would result in unjustifiable hardship. Many employers accept that workplace flexibility is an attraction and retention strategy.
What is 'reasonable' when making adjustments?
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 financial cost, an amendment to the physical building that is not possible due to council or other restrictions, or an adjustment that would 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 practicality of the adjustment
- The extent of any disruption caused to business operations
- The financial or other costs of the adjustment
- The extent of the organisation’s financial and other resources
- The availability of financial or other assistance to help make the adjustment (e.g. the Employment Assistance Fund)
- The nature of business activities and size of the organisation
Examples of workplace adjustments
Examples of workplace adjustments that create an inclusive environment include:
- Allowing a person with disability to have some flexibility in their working hours, such as working part-time or starting and finishing later, or teleworking for part of the week
- Redistributing minor duties (i.e. not inherent requirements of a job) that a person with disability finds difficult to do
- Purchasing or modifying equipment, such as speech recognition software for someone with vision impairment, an amplified phone for a person who is hard of hearing, or a digital recorder for someone who finds it difficult to take written notes
- Providing additional training, mentoring, supervision and support
- Providing an Auslan interpreter or captioning for a Deaf employee
- Providing agendas in electronic formats for people who find it difficult to manipulate pages
- Height-adjustable work stations
Free workplace assessments and funding for workplace changes
JobAccess is an Australian Government initiative that provides workplace and employment information and resources for people with disability, employers and service providers.
JobAccess provides funding through the Employment Assistance Fund (EAF) to cover the costs of making workplace changes. This can include buying equipment, modifications or accessing services for people with disability.
The EAF is available to eligible people with disability who are about to start a job, are self-employed or who are currently working. It is also available to people with disability who need Auslan assistance or special work equipment to look for and prepare for a job.
The EAF could help to buy work-related modifications and services like:
- The cost of making adjustments to your physical workplace
- Modifications to work vehicles
- Special equipment for the workplace
- Information and communication devices
- Auslan interpreting services
- Specialist services for employees with specific learning disorders and mental health conditions
- Disability awareness training for the workplace
- Mental health awareness training
Free workplace assessments are available through the EAF to help work out solutions to make your workplace more flexible and accessible to employees with disability.
Visit the JobAccess website for more information or free call 1800 464 800 to speak to a JobAccess Adviser.
How can we help?
The Australian Network on Disability (AND) is a member-based national powerhouse of more than 250 private, public and for-purpose organisations actively committed to inclusion of people with disability in business.
As part of our network, we’ll support you to build understanding and expertise, connect with others and check your progress on access and inclusion. Our services, programs and tools make it easier for you to build confidence and capability to welcome people with disability as employees, customers and stakeholders.
An effective Workplace Adjustment Policy is the foundation of an inclusive and barrier-free workplace. It maximises the retention of existing employees who may acquire disability, and facilitates employment of skilled and talented candidates with disability.
To discuss how we can help you develop or optimise your Workplace Adjustment Passport, policy or procedure, please contact us.