Reasonable Adjustments: A Guide to the Workplace

To help you get to grips with what reasonable adjustments are and why you need to make them, we’ll break down reasonable adjustments and share some examples in this guide. Reviewing this guide should help you understand more about reasonable adjustments and how these can benefit both employers and employees.

If you’re an employer in England, Wales, or Scotland, you must make reasonable adjustments to the working conditions of any staff with disabilities or neurodivergence. Over 4 million workers have a confirmed disability and it lands on employers to ensure they receive equity to carry out their roles.

Reasonable Adjustment Meaning

A reasonable adjustment is an alteration or change that an organisation, service, public function, or venue must make to accommodate people with disabilities, neurodivergence, or physical and mental health conditions.

Employers must adhere to the Equality Act 2010 which ensures people with disabilities or neurodivergence gain access to the same opportunities as those without. 

Some of these entities will have some form of occupational health or reasonable adjustment policies to guide them. But to protect people with disabilities from discrimination, victimisation, or harassment, they must also follow The Equality Act 2010.

It’s worth noting that what one organisation deems a reasonable adjustment may be different to another. And while there is no gold standard, adjustments should be substantial and made within the context of the organisation’s resources.

What Is Classed as a Reasonable Adjustment Under the Equality Act 2010?

Entities can make different types of reasonable adjustments for people with disabilities. And determining what is a reasonable adjustment depends on the individual circumstances of each person and their disability. Some factors include: 

  • The differences in someone’s particular disability, for instance, making reasonable adjustments for ADHD
  • How easy it is to make the adjustment
  • Cost and resources involved
  • Size of the organisation
  • Whether or not some changes have been made  

Some examples of reasonable adjustments include: 

  • Adjustments to premises
  • Making changes to a working environment 
  • Alterations in working hours
  • Extra time or training
  • Finding an alternative way to do something
  • Adapting policies
  • Providing or modifying equipment, services, or support mechanisms

“The general definition of disability for the purposes of the Act is a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on a person’s ability to carry out normal day-today activities”

Equality Act 2010 Guidance
UK Government Equalities Office

Who Can Get a Reasonable Adjustment?

Individuals that receive a reasonable adjustment may include full and part-time staff members, apprentices, contractors, business partners, clients, customers, and other types of users within the following areas: 

  • Employment: Employers have a legal obligation to make appropriate adjustments to working conditions for any staff with a disclosed disability.  
  • Education: The Equality Act 2010 ensures schools, colleges, and Universities cannot unlawfully discriminate against any students with disabilities. 
  • Housing: Public housing organisations must provide reasonable adjustments to living situations for people in their homes.  
  • Goods and services: Buildings and venues such as banks, cinemas, hospitals, and leisure centers must accommodate reasonable adjustments for staff and customers.  
  • Private clubs: Member’s clubs, golf clubs, working men’s clubs and any organised group must make adjustments for people with disabilities. 

How Should Employers Make Reasonable Adjustments?

Once you’ve recognised the need to make reasonable adjustments, how should you go about making them? Two potential pathways can help you.

Workplace Needs Assessments

If an employee comes to you with a confirmed disability, like neurodivergence, one option is to pay for a workplace needs assessment. This is a private, independent review conducted by an impartial assessor. Sometimes, assessors will have a specialism. So if your staff member has dyslexia, for instance, they may benefit from a dyslexia-focused workplace needs assessment.

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Access to Work

Another route for making reasonable adjustments is the government-funded Access to Work (Atw) scheme. This offers funding of up to or around £60,000 and can support employees with referrals to specific services. Atw supports a range of interventions from funded transport to translators. And a diagnosed condition is not a prerequisite.

How Long Does an Employer Have to Make Reasonable Adjustments?

There is no official timeline for employers to make a reasonable adjustment for people with disabilities. 

Should an employer fail to comply with their duty to make reasonable adjustments they may leave themselves open to claims from employees. In these cases, the time limit for claims is three months from the date of the act.    

Are Reduced Hours a Reasonable Adjustment?

To promote a high degree of occupational health, employers will consider a reduction in hours as a reasonable adjustment. Staff with any physical conditions or disabilities may have specific accessibility requirements and need extra time to arrive or leave their workplace. People who need wheelchair access or who use the underground but can’t access a crowded tube carriage, for instance, may be able to request earlier or later start dates.

Full-time employees can seek a flexible working hours contract by talking to their employers and explaining how the condition affects their ability to work. 

Failure to Make Reasonable Adjustments

Failing to make reasonable adjustments for an employee with a disability may be discrimination. This can lead to a possible discrimination event, which employers should avoid. 

Also, there are some cases where employees will claim for reasonable adjustments that employers believe aren’t reasonable. Such cases warrant a discussion with the employee to review their decision and agree on the best alternative support methods.  

Is It Possible for an Employer to Justify Not Making a Reasonable Adjustment?

Employers can’t justify any grounds for not making a reasonable adjustment when needed. But the classification of reasonable depends on the facts and details of each situation. A variety of factors will influence the outcomes which may include available costs, resources, and appropriate permissions from relevant authorities.

Example of When an Adjustment Is Not Reasonable Because of the Cost

There will be situations where the most appropriate reasonable adjustment to make comes at a cost that’s disproportionate or unaffordable. For instance, a new employee who uses a wheelchair may ask their new employer to install a lift to access an upper floor. That employer may make enquiries and discover the cost is unaffordable and may be a risk to the business.

The employer can turn down the request for a new lift installation on the grounds of cost or risk to the business. But in doing so they must offer to make reasonable alternative adjustments to accommodate the individual that do fit within their means. 


An employment tribunal can consider any financial compensation for monies lost due to discrimination. Financial compensation can include various aspects such as salary, sick pay, pension, and any work-related benefits. 

Compensation values can vary depending on the severity of the discrimination. For instance, a one-off case may cost up to £10,000 with more serious cases commanding anywhere up to £50,000. 

For employees seeking a discrimination claim, they will need to ensure they make any claim within 3 months of any event they perceive as discriminatory. 

Asking for Reasonable Adjustments

If you have a disability, neurodivergence, physical or mental health condition then you’ll want to ask your employer to make reasonable adjustments.

"You’ll need to show that someone without a disability would not be affected, or would be affected less than you, by the particular rule, feature or lack of equipment or support"
Citizens Advice

In this case, it’s a good idea to create a plan of action.  

For instance, when asking employers to make reasonable adjustments for ADHD, individuals may want to think about and draw up a list of the types of assistance they need before a formal discussion. 

But there are some other things you can do too.

Check Your Employer’s Policies

Let’s take an example of people who need to ask for reasonable adjustments for dyslexia. The best place they can start is by contacting Human Resources to ask to review their reasonable adjustments policy or occupational health documents.

These policies may include a set of recommended resources that can help, such as a process for applying to the government’s Access to Work scheme.  

Reasonable Adjustment Passport

As part of any planning process, keeping a live and up-to-date record of all workplace adjustments agreed between you and your manager is important. Doing so ensures you can move these agreed adjustments with you into new roles, providing new managers with evidence of what you need to perform. 

Referred to as a reasonable adjustment passport, any new starter or existing employee with a disability should complete their passport with their line manager. 

Writing a Letter

Your planning should include preparing a letter to the HR lead to make a formal request for reasonable adjustments. Your letter should include references to the following:  

  • The specific changes you need
  • How any changes will address the gaps or barriers you’ve identified
  • Why you think the adjustment is reasonable
  • Outline responses to any objections they may raise such as cost, lack of resources, or impact on others

Regular Reviews: Are Things Working for You?

Your planning process should include a regular review of reasonable adjustments with your manager. This is to ensure you have exactly what you need to do your job and that the most responsible people are in place. 

Reviews may be appropriate at the following points: 

  • Adjustments aren’t working for you and you want to seek alternatives
  • There’s a change to your condition 
  • Your role changes 
  • You’re planning on returning to work

Examples of Reasonable Adjustments

So, now you know a little more about what reasonable adjustments are, why you should make them, and how you can do so.

Let’s run through some situations where they might apply. 

Captioning for Employees with ASD and Dyslexia

Sometimes employees join organisations and have a pre-existing diagnosis. Or they receive them while employed. For instance, a case study from AbilityNet shows how Rachita joined a company with a dyslexia diagnosis but went on to receive an ASD diagnosis while working for them. 

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To help her dyslexia at university Rachita received funding for some assistive technology. But of course this hadn’t transferred to her work. Instead, captioning technology like Caption.ed can meet the majority of adjustments she needs, especially recording meetings while working from home and in the office.

Boosting Working Memory in Staff with ADHD

Staff members with ADHD may need support with working memory, like processing and remembering information when it’s given orally. And this is an area where Caption.ed can also help them, since users can capture accurate transcripts to refer to after meetings – even informal ones using captioning through our app. 

By freeing up space in a user’s working memory, Caption.ed can bridge the gap for employees with ADHD. And with both channels of visual and audio content available, staff members’ working memory becomes less burdened and better able to retain what they see and hear.

Flexibility in Working Patterns or Location

Some neurodivergent staff may need you to make adjustments to their working patterns or even the locations they work from. Busy, crowded office spaces can lead neurodivergent people to experience problems with distraction, overstimulation, and sensory overwhelm. 

One way to make reasonable adjustments can be to offer them space apart from colleagues or have the option of quieter spaces to work from. Letting them step out from hot-desking obligations, for example, can make a huge difference in productivity. Or, in many cases, offering them more opportunities to work from home.

Allocating a Work Mentor or Buddy

One type of reasonable adjustment can be appointing a workplace buddy or mentoring scheme to reduce feelings of overwhelm. 

Staff members with ASD, in particular, can struggle with problems such as face blindness, matching cultural norms around communication, and feelings of apartness or isolation. And an appropriate buddy or mentor could help with aspects such as a: 

Second pair of eyes to check or validate information or reports. 

Referral points to help with navigating cultural norms and workplace habits.

Supportive during points of overwhelm or overstimulation.

Offering Personal Workstations

Personalising a workstation can also be a reasonable adjustment for staff who need specific help with physical needs or the opportunity to reduce the number of distractions in the working area. 

Personalisation could include standing desks, earphones, ergonomic chairs, and particular types of low-level lighting.

Altering Tests at the Interview Processes

A job interview should not put any applicants at a disadvantage because of their disability or neurodivergence. As a result, applicants can request that potential employers make reasonable adjustments in the recruitment process. 

According to the charity Scope, examples of adjustments to the recruitment process may include: 

  • A BSL interpreter
  • Screen readers to help with computer-based tests
  • Extra time to complete assessments
  • Requesting interview questions in advance

Providing Dictation Software

Employees with dyslexia or dyscalculia may need support with written communication. And dictation software is a perfect form of assistive technology that can help them overcome these difficulties and communicate with fluency.

Our dictation software–TalkType–is designed for people who may struggle to type using keyboards. And, as well as supporting better accessibility, TalkType can give staff a stronger sense of independence and autonomy. 

Make Reasonable Adjustments with Caption.Ed and TalkType

Caption.Ed and TalkType are CareScribe’s flagship forms of assistive tech. And they can elevate staff performance levels when used as part of a workplace needs assessment or the Access to Work scheme.

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By allowing staff greater autonomy and control over productivity and communication, they’re both recognised and effective AT tools that will make a difference for your teams. 

Chat with us now about making reasonable adjustments through Access to Work or a Workplace Needs Assessment.

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