Reasonable Adjustments – Guidance For UK Employers And Recruiters

What Is Reasonable Adjustment?

The Equality Act imposes a duty to make “reasonable adjustments” for disabled persons.  Reasonable adjustments are changes you need to implement to prevent a disabled employee or candidate from being at a disadvantage, whether by virtue of a physical feature of your premises (such as no step-free access) or a process that places people with a disability at a disadvantage. Adjustments can be required at every stage, from job design, interview and assessment, through to making an offer and decisions over the retention of existing employees. 

Your selection processes must be capable of responding to changes either requested by or required for applicants with disabilities who may need reasonable adjustment(s) to be made. You only have to make these changes where you know, or could reasonably be expected to know, that a job applicant or existing employee is disabled within the meaning of the Equality Act. This means doing everything you can reasonably be expected to do to find out

What Is Reasonable?

The law is all about being reasonable. What is reasonable is not clearly defined by the law, so you need to consider whether you are confident that something is reasonable in the particular circumstances and implement that solution. If in doubt, always take advice from professionals in this area, such as The Clear Company or seek independent legal advice.

In the meantime some of the elements you should consider are:

  • Is the adjustment effective to reduce or eliminate that particular person’s disadvantage?  If there is no impact, then it is unlikely to be an appropriate reasonable adjustment.
  • Is it practical?  The simpler it is to put in place, the more likely it is to be considered reasonable for you to make the adjustment.  However, there are times when it can prove more difficult to put the adjustment in place. In those circumstances you need to weigh a potential adjustment against other factors and not simply discount it without careful consideration.
  • Are the associated costs and resources required to implement the adjustment reasonable?
  • Is there any financial support available, such as an Access to Work grant? https://www.gov.uk/access-to-work/overview

Reasonable adjustments are based on need, not preference. Sometimes a preference may be based on need but in other circumstances an adjustment may be reasonable and have the required impact without necessarily being the candidate’s first choice.

Remember, adjustments are designed to remove barriers, not to lower the bar or change the criteria. Your focus remains on getting the best person for the role. By making reasonable adjustments you are making sure that a person is not prevented from showing you how good they are.

A failure to make reasonable adjustments amounts to unlawful discrimination.

Some Of The Things You Should Do

  • Always start at the point of job analysis and be certain you can justify the criteria and the assessment process.
  • Check in advance if your recruitment process is accessible, including your on-line process.
  • Have a process in place to work out the adjustments required and to implement them.
  • Provide a helpline and/or email address for people to contact for support or information on reasonable adjustments throughout your selection process.
  • When using assessments, check with the test provider if they present any barriers for disabled applicants. It is recommended to only use a test provider who can provide advice and support on reasonable adjustments.
  • For our assessments contact Talent Assessment Support, which can provide more information to help you prepare ahead of the assessment date.

What Can I Ask Job Applicants?

Ask if they need reasonable adjustments to take part in the recruitment process. Given the restriction on asking pre-employment health or disability-related questions, make it clear to applicants that the only reason you are asking is to make sure that you remove any barriers during the recruitment process. In these cases, you should only use their answers for working out the adjustments they need and whether these are reasonable. If you used the fact that the person needed reasonable adjustments as a reason not to take them further into the recruitment process, this would be unlawful discrimination. 

It should also be made clear that applicants are under no obligation to inform you of a disability if they do not wish to share that information. In all cases you should ensure that you have received all the advice you need including, but not limited to, legal advice in the event of uncertainty.

If a job applicant does not ask for adjustments in advance but turns out to need them, you must still make them, although what is reasonable in these circumstances may be different from what would be reasonable with more notice. You must not hold the fact that you have to make last minute adjustments against the applicant. It is really important to ensure you promote your commitment to reasonable adjustments throughout the recruitment process and keep checking back with the candidate to avoid this situation.

Reasonable Adjustment Options

Reasonable adjustment options should be limited only by your imagination and the term “reasonable”.  Depending on your choice of test provider you will usually have a choice of reasonable adjustment options to consider and discuss with the candidate, as in the case of the SHL product range. In many cases, the best option will be a blended approach combining a number of adjustments to achieve your end goal of providing the candidate with a suitable reasonable adjustment. 

Reasonable adjustments can involve one or more of the following:

  • Changing the way things are done
  • Changing physical features
  • Providing additional equipment, sometimes referred to as auxiliary aids

If a candidate cannot access an assessment, as reasonable adjustments cannot be made, and alternative methods of assessment are offered, you may need to contact our support or your test provider to get help and support on how to interpret and compare his or her results with those of the other applicants.