Workplace adjustments and adaptations

Returning to the same workload, commitments and responsibilities at work can often be too much for you to cope with, particularly in the early stages of your return to work. If you become disabled during employment, your employer should make reasonable adjustments to your workplace or working conditions to help you stay in work.

What are reasonable adjustments?

Reasonable adjustments are a key part of the Equality Act 2010 and require your employer to adjust your workplace or working conditions so you can return to work, or continue to work, when they’re aware you have a disability.

Under this law, your employer must:

  • make changes to your job to allow you to return to work or provide an alternative job, if no adjustments can be made;
  • prevent you from being at a disadvantage because of your disability;
  • ensure you have the same access to everything that’s involved in getting and doing a job as a non-disabled person;
  • remove any obstacles that prevent you returning to work.

Reasonable adjustments can be temporary or permanent. The nature and severity of your disability will determine how long these changes remain.

What adjustments can be made?

Many of the adjustments your employer can make will not be expensive, and you employer is not required to do more than is reasonable for them to do.

What is reasonable depends on:

  • the size and nature of your employer’s organisation;
  • the nature of your disability;
  • how your condition affects your ability to work.

Your employer can make adjustments to your:

  • working arrangements;
  • workplace or premise;
  • job and workload.

Involving occupational health, or your trade union when returning to work is advisable as they can make recommendations to your employer about the adjustments to make.

Working arrangements

You can ask for changes to your working conditions, such as:

  • a phased return to work;
  • a change to your working hours;
  • home working;
  • time off to attend treatment or rehabilitation;
  • help with transport to and from work.

A phased return, or change to working hours, allows you to readjust to your workload and routine, which can help with your recovery.

Workplace

If your illness or injury was caused by a work-related hazard or work equipment, or your disability requires alterations to your workstation, you can ask for adjustments to your workplace, such as:

  • improving accessibility to the premises;
  • altering or adapting workspaces to accommodate your needs;
  • purchasing specialist furniture or equipment to help you with your work;
  • moving or recalibrating equipment to improve safety.

Workload

It could be that your job can be adjusted or better supported to help your return. You could ask your employer to:

  • provide additional training or instruction;
  • provide a mentor or ask a colleague to help with your workload;
  • reduce your travel by providing other means to meet clients or colleagues;
  • provide alternative work or organise your workload around your capabilities.

Planning adjustments

Planning potential adjustments should begin as soon as you begin thinking of returning to work. You should work with your employer to develop a Return to Work Plan to incorporate any necessary adjustments.

When planning adjustments, both you and your employer should consider:

  • what you think you can and can’t do;
  • what would stop you from returning to work, even if these adjustments were made, and how you would overcome these issues;
  • how long these adjustments need to remain in place and how often you will review them;
  • how these adjustments affect health and safety and other regulations.

If you need help when planning adjustments, your occupational health service can support you to make informed decisions considering all of the options available to you.

Access to Work grant

If you need practical support to remain in, or get back to, work, you could be entitled to a grant through the Government’s Access to Work scheme.

This grant can help pay for:

  • adaptations or specialist equipment;
  • taxi fares to work if you can’t use public transport;
  • a support worker or mentor to help you at work.

Find out how to get an Access to Work grant on GOV.UK

More about reasonable adjustments

The Equality and Human Rights Commission provide information, with examples, of how reasonable adjustments should be made.