Making reasonable adjustments in the workplace

Before your employee returns to work after sickness absence, it may be necessary to make adjustments to their workplace to ensure they can carry out their job safely and effectively.

This may be recommended by your employee’s GP, who can indicate in their fit note that they ‘may’ be fit for work if you make workplace adjustments.

Why should I make workplace adjustments?

Research has shown that being out of work is bad for your health, and the longer someone is absent, the harder it can be for them to return.

The sooner your employee returns to work after illness or injury, the more beneficial it will be for them, both mentally and physically.

Workplace adjustments can help your employee:

  • return to work early;
  • get to grips with practical tasks;
  • return to their normal skills and capabilities;
  • improve their confidence.

Can I get help to make workplace adjustments?

If you need advice or assistance when making workplace adjustments, you can seek specialist occupational health support.

Occupational health professionals are experienced in the physical and mental wellbeing of employees in the workplace. They can advise you how to carry out workplace adaptations (reasonable adjustments) to support your employees’ return to work. Access to Work can help contribute towards the cost of reasonable adjustments in the workplace, and more information on reasonable adjustments for disabled workers can be found on GOV.UK.

Find out more about occupational health support.

What type of adjustments can I make?

Workplace adjustments can be temporary or permanent, and include:

  • providing additional training;
  • modifying work patterns and working hours — such as working from home, flexi-time or part-time work;
  • allowing a phased return to work;
  • allowing an employee to be absent from work for treatment or rehabilitation
  • changes to work equipment and furniture;
  • making adjustments to workplace premises.

What are reasonable adjustments?

If your employee becomes disabled, or develops a health condition due to their illness or injury, you are legally required to make reasonable adjustments to enable the employee to return to, and remain in, work.

This is to ensure that they are not placed at a disadvantage compared to non-disabled people, and that they have equal opportunities to stay in work.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has more information on how to make reasonable adjustments to jobs and workplaces, as well as examples of workplace adjustments that you can make to working arrangements, premises and jobs.