The term ‘reasonable adjustment’ is one in which every employer has more than likely thrown around from time to time when dealing with situations such as absence or flexibility in the workplace. But just how important is it?

By law, every employer has a legal obligation to make reasonable adjustments in the workplace to ensure equality for disabled employees.

In a recent tribunal case, an HMRC employee has successfully claimed disability discrimination, indirect discrimination and failure to provide reasonable adjustments, after having been automatically rejected from a job, when he mentioned in his application that he could not drive.

The employee suffers from fainting episodes and has been under a no-driving order from the DVLA since 2018. Despite normal practice for the role being 2 caseworkers travelling together, and the employee having Access to Work funding, the employee was not able to continue through the application process due to not having a driving license, and this was a requirement stated in the job advertisement.

The tribunal based in Scotland found that HMRC had treated the employee unfavourably and stated that the driving license could have been listed as desirable criteria, but it was not fair to decline the application based on this. Additionally the tribunal found the employee to be victim of indirect discrimination and that reasonable adjustments had not been made.

The employee was awarded £11,108.49 for financial losses and £9,071.34 for injury to feelings.

What is considered to be a reasonable adjustment?

When deciding if an adjustment is reasonable, an employer should consider whether or not a change would eliminate or reduce any disadvantage that an employee would otherwise have suffered.

A legal duty to provide reasonable adjustments arise when:

· the employer knows, or could be expected to know, an employee or job applicant has a disability,

· an employee or job applicant with a disability asks for adjustments,

· an employee with a disability is having difficulty with any part of their job,

· an employee’s absence record, sickness record or delay in returning to work is because of, or linked to, their disability.

Employers must make the adjustments if they are reasonable. Failing to meet this duty cannot be justified and is always unlawful. If you have any questions regarding your obligations or specific queries in relation to requests for reasonable adjustments, contact our team to speak to one of our HR Consultants for some advice.

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