This checklist provides members with essential information to refer to when preparing to ask an employer for reasonable adjustments at work. Reasonable adjustments can apply to a wide range of disabilities and employers have a duty to provide them.
On this page:
- Returning to or starting work
- What problems might arise when I return to/start work?
- What reasonable adjustments could I ask for?
This guidance is to help you if you are returning to work after developing a disability or starting a new job which might throw up problems because of an existing disability.
Depending on the extent of your disability, your employer may be legally obliged to provide reasonable adjustments to help you do your job.
If you have recently been diagnosed with a physical or mental disability, or have had an episode of symptoms, you may need time to adjust to this before returning to work. You could:
- Ask your GP for a fit note specifying you are currently unfit for work or fit subject to support from your employer, such as a phased return (be aware you may not get full pay in this case)
- Check if your employer has a policy of disability leave for this purpose. You could ask your CSP rep about this
- If there is no disability leave, you could ask for this as a reasonable adjustment
- If you are starting a new job, you may need to ask the employer for a delay to your start
You may not yet be clear what problems might arise at work as a result of your disability and you should gain as much knowledge as possible.
- Talk to your GP
Although they will not have the expertise to propose detailed adjustments they may be able to give you a broad idea of what might cause difficulties. A letter from your GP can be particularly helpful if you have a “hidden” disability that an employer might be sceptical about
- Do your own research about your impairment
There are many specialist organisations dealing with different conditions. This proving disability and reasonable adjustments guide (page 63) contains a directory of 30 impairments, including symptoms, possible reasonable adjustments and organisations for further information
- Talk to the Occupational Health (OH) department at work if there is one
OH will have expertise on what adjustments could be made to help overcome any barriers to work. However, don’t forget they are engaged by your employer, so you will need to decide if you are ready to tell your employer about your disability
Although the legal duty to make adjustments is on the employer, it is a good idea to think about suggestions yourself. Think in detail about what areas of difficulty you have at work and what solutions would overcome these.
- The EHRC equality body suggests practical adjustments employers should consider to help disabled staff
- This proving disability and reasonable adjustments guide (page 64) contains a directory of 30 impairments, including symptoms, possible reasonable adjustments and organisations for further information
- Some adjustments will be fairly simple and inexpensive and some less so, but may nevertheless be deemed “reasonable” in legal terms
- Approach Access to Work
This is a publicly funded employment support programme that can provide practical and financial support in the form of grants if you have a disability or long term physical or mental health condition. It is generally up to the individual to contact Access to Work, although your CSP rep or employer can help with this. Details of how to apply for support are here.
While you are not obliged to tell your employer about your disability, if you want them to make
adjustments, they will need to have enough information to carry out them out.
- Talk to your CSP rep or HR department and get acquainted with any employer policies and procedures on disability and reasonable adjustments. CSP stewards, Health and Safety representatives, and Equality Reps can all assist you to talking to your manager/employer
- Gain as much knowledge about your impairments and possible adjustments needed beforehand
- Prepare notes on what you want to say to your manager/employer and make notes on their response
- Show the manager/employer any relevant information from your GP – especially useful if you have a “hidden” impairment
- Talk in positive terms about what you can achieve if adjustments are made
- You might also ask your rep to accompany you to any meetings when you discuss your reasonable adjustments. You should be entitled to trade union accompaniment if your employer is taking formal disciplinary action against you
If the employer is reluctant to make adjustments you have asked for:
- Ask them for an assessment to be done
This should be done by the Occupational Health department if there is one or a consultant with relevant expertise. Disability charity Scope has more information about this
- Approach Access to Work for support if you have not already done so
- Talk to your CSP rep
They may talk further with your employer or suggest you raise a formal grievance. If the problem is not resolved, you and your rep may have to talk to a CSP official about taking an employment tribunal case, which have to be opened within 3 months of any claimed employment discrimination
- Get a written record of what has been agreed
Both the TUC and NHS Employers promote the use of reasonable adjustment disability passports. These are a written record of the adjustments that have been agreed for an individual so that if you change jobs or switch department, or your line manager changes, you do not have to go through the process again
- Build in a review period
There should be a review after, say, six months from when your adjustments have been put in place to ensure they are working satisfactorily. Your employer has an ongoing duty to provide adjustments