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Reasonable Adjustment Policy 2019/20

Reasonable Adjustment Policy

1. POLICY STATEMENT
Brunel University London is fully committed to pro-actively advancing equality of opportunity in employment for all employees and to developing supportive working practices and employment policies that support a positive work life balance as such Brunel University supports the spirit of the social model of disability and applies this in its approach to providing adjustments

In particular, this Reasonable Adjustments Policy sets out the University’s commitment to promoting disability equality, eliminating unlawful discrimination in all its activities and working towards ensuring that all staff with disabilities realise their potential. The University values the diversity of all its staff and is committed to ensuring that the highest equality and diversity standards are maintained.

 

2. POLICY AIMS AND OBJECTIVES
The purpose of this policy is to assist in maintaining a healthy working environment for all employees. In particular, it sets out:

  • the University’s duty and commitment to improving accessibility for all staff seeking support or adjustments to their working environment; and
  • Some of the basic principles of our legal duty to provide reasonable adjustments for disabled staff.
  • This policy covers the agreed approach of the university toward employees, workers contractors and potential employees, who are disabled, who believe that they may be disabled or become disabled

 

3. SCOPE
This policy applies to all employees, workers and contractors of the University. The scope of this policy covers conditions including, but not limited to: physical disability, sensory impairment, mental health conditions and neurodiversity conditions

 

4. THE EQUALITY ACT
Under the Equality Act 2010, the University is required to provide reasonable adjustments for disabled employees to ensure that they may not be disadvantaged at work.

 A disability is defined by the Act as those who have:

  • a physical or mental impairment which has a ‘substantial’ and ‘long-term’ adverse effect on that person's ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.

This means that in general:

  • The person must have an impairment that is either physical or mental.
  • The impairment must have adverse effects which are substantial.
  • The long-term substantial adverse effects must be on normal day-to-day activities.

 Chronic illnesses such as HIV, Multiple Sclerosis (MS), and Cancer are deemed as disability from the point of diagnoses under legislation. This means that someone with one of these conditions will automatically be considered to be disabled from the moment of diagnosis even if the impact of their condition would not otherwise meet the definition. Likewise someone who is registered blind or visually impaired will automatically be considered to be disabled

 

4.1 What is ‘substantial’ and ‘long term’?
‘Substantial’ means that the impact of the condition is more than minor or trivial – e.g. it takes much longer than it usually would to complete a daily task like getting dressed.

 The Equality Act states that ‘Long-term’ means it must be likely to last or reoccur over a period of 12 months or more, for example, a man experienced a period of anxiety and depression. This had a substantial adverse effect on his ability to make social contacts and to visit particular places for three months before improving. Six months later he had another period of depression which had the effect that he was no longer able to leave his home or go to work. The depression continued for five months. As the adverse effects reoccurred over a period in excess of 12 months, the long-term element of the definition of disability was met.

4.2  What is ‘impairment’?
Impairments can be physical or mental but examples may include:

  • Chronic pain;
  • Mobility related impairments caused by accident or illness;
  • Sensory impairments, such as those affecting sight or hearing;
  • Impairments with fluctuating or recurring effects such as rheumatoid arthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and epilepsy;
  • Progressive, such as motor neurone disease and muscular dystrophy.

 It is not possible to give an exhaustive list of conditions

 Example of types of reasonable adjustments that may be implemented can be found in Appendix A

 It is important to remember that impairments can be both visible and invisible.

5.  REASONABLE ADJUSTMENTS
The duty to make reasonable adjustments is embedded in the Equality Act. It states that employers have a legal duty to take all reasonable steps to remove the disadvantage that a disabled person may face at work because of their disability.

The duty to make reasonable adjustments may include the need to make adjustments to physical features of premises, policies and procedures and to provide auxiliary (additional) aids and services.

 The aim behind providing a reasonable adjustment is to ensure that everyone is treated in an equitable way. Ensuring equality requires treating people according to their different needs. Therefore, it is not about treating everyone in the same way.

 It is best practice for those involved in the decision making for reasonable adjustments to discuss with the individual the best possible resolution.

 

5.1 What is a Reasonable Adjustment?
A reasonable adjustment involves making a change to the way someone works their working environment, or to the way we work with them, and has the effect of minimising the person’s impairment in the workplace so that they are able to undertake the duties of their role. This could, for example, involve providing the individual with a piece of equipment that helps them to read their computer screen or a flexible working arrangement that helps a person combine their work with their impairment  or health needs.

 It is useful for both the employee of staff and line manager to document any adjustments requested and implemented using a Workplace Adjustment Agreement. A template of the ‘Workplace Adjustment Agreement’ can be found in Appendix B.

Examples of types of reasonable adjustments that may be implemented can be found in Appendix B.

 Whilst the Equality Act does not define what is reasonable, the consideration of whether an adjustment is ‘reasonable’ is judged against the following:

  • Whether the adjustment will help in overcoming the difficulty that the employee has;
  • The extent to which it is practical for the University to make the adjustment(s);
  • The cost and availability of resources, including external assistance and finance;
  • The extent to which making the adjustment(s) would disrupt the University activities;
  • The size of the employer and it resources.

6. REASONABLE ADJUSTMENTS FOR EXISTING EMPLOYEES
The University has a duty to make reasonable adjustments for any employee, worker or self-employed contractor working for the University. This applies equally to employees with existing, developing or new conditions, including flare ups, the same guidance applies regarding the provision of reasonable adjustments.

When speaking with an individual about their impairment, assumptions should never be made about whether an individual needs any reasonable adjustments or what those adjustments might be. It is therefore, important to hear from the individual and look to agree a reasonable approach with them, taking into account the needs of the individual, their colleagues, their manager and the University.

In some case an Occupational Health referral may be required to seek professional guidance and support. Occupational Health may require the employee to complete a health check questionnaire which provides Occupational Health information which helps them to:

  • Advice on any adjustments to your work or workplace which may be necessary to ensure that any health condition you may have is not made worse by your work.
  • Identify any medical condition which could pose a safety risk to you, your colleagues, students or members of the public.
  • Check that you are not particularly vulnerable to any hazards that your job may contain.

You may be contacted by the Occupational Health Professional who is dealing with your health check questionnaire.  They will either telephone you to get some more details so that the assessment can be completed there and then or make you an appointment with an Occupational Health Advisor or Physician to discuss matters. 

 

6.1  Available Support

Internal – Managers, Human Resources and Occupational Health will discuss any reasonableadjustment that the individual requires. These could be related to workload allocation, work patterns, desk location, office furniture, working hours, travelling required for the role and accessibility to those locations, equipment, training, time off for appointments/treatment etc.

External – Access to Work: Helps anindividual overcome disability issues in the workplace by providing support and can help to pay for work related costs.

Access to Work can cover all of the agreed costs to help overcome disability issues if the individual:

  • Is about to start paid work; or
  • Has been working for less than six weeks when they apply for assistance.

 The University may have to contribute to the costs if the individual has been working for six weeks or more.

Detailed information on the process for contacting Access to Work can be found in Appendix C.

External– Access to Work Mental Health Support (Reemploy): The Reemploy ‘Access to Work Mental Health Service’ provide independent support and advice for people who are working and who experience mental ill health issues that affect their work.

This is separate from the University’s Occupational Health provision and employees are able to self-refer. Further information on the service can be found here.

Care first are our chosen Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) –
The Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) is free and available to members of staff across the University24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Information is available through an online portal and a telephone helpline. Brunel University London has partnered with Care First an external organisation to provide this service, it is Independent from the University and completely confidential.  

Call 0808 168 2143 or visit www.carefirst-lifestyle.co.uk quoting ‘brunel’ as your username and ‘employee’ as your password. 

 Care First Zest

CARE FIRST ZEST As a separate value-added service to the core Care first platform, Zest is a mobile enabled site providing customisable content illustrating the benefits of a healthy, balanced lifestyle within the context of the workplace, and providing a range of compelling interactive tools with which you can tailor your personal health plans.

 The Equality and Diversity Team, can be contacted for further information and guidance on the support available for individuals.

 The University recognises the following Trade Unions:

  • GMB
  • UCU
  • UNISON
  • UNITE

Any employee who is a member of one of these unions may seek advice and support from them – this includes support at meetings.

6.2 Timescales 
Agreed adjustments should be put in place as promptly as possible. Delays implementing adjustments can be very distressing for the employee and potentially have an adverse impact on the activities of the University.

 Given the impact on individuals caused by the absence of adjustments and the further disadvantage that this causes them, the University will endeavour to ensure that adjustments are made within four weeks of their recommendation. Where this is not possible the employee will be informed of the reasons for this and the anticipated time frame for implementation.

 The manager is responsible for liaising with the individual and keeping them updated. When an adjustment is being considered but cannot be implemented immediately (e.g. adjustments to building), the employee may be exempt from certain duties until the adjustments are put in place.

 

6.3 Implementation, Monitoring and Review of Adjustment
Once an adjustment has been agreed with the employee and is implemented, the adjustment will be monitored and reviewed in the early days and then periodically as needed to assess how effective the adjustment has been in removing any barrier(s) at work annually.

 If adjustments are temporary, for example, an alternative duty, clear timescales for review will be discussed and agreed at the outset.

 In some cases, it may be appropriate for a trial period to be implemented to ‘test’ whether or not an adjustment is going to be suitable or effective.

 Refer to Appendix D for “Top Tips on Supporting (Disabled) Employees.”

 

7.  REASONABLE ADJUSTMENTS FOR POTENTIAL AND NEW WORKERS
Under the Equality Act, the duty to make reasonable adjustments extends to those who:

  • Apply for a work with the University, or
  • Tell the University that they are thinking of applying for a work.

With this in mind, careful consideration should be given to the following processes/activities to ensure that the University is complaint with the Equality Act: 

7.1  Job Description/Person Specification
The job description should accurately reflect the duties and responsibilities of the job and the person specification must only contain criteria which is job related and can be fully justified.

7.2  Disclosure of Disability Application process
The University currently uses an online application process, which enables applicants to apply and track their application. However, application forms can also be made available, upon request, in alternative formats such as Word or Braille.

7.3 Disclosure of Disability
As part of the application process individuals are given the opportunity to disclose whether they have an impairment.

Disclosing an impairment is an individual decision, and there is no obligation on anybody to do so. However, there are many reasons why disclosing an impairment to the University is a positive action.  However disclosure will enable the individual to better support. The nature of an individual’s impairment if disclosed will be kept in strict confidence. 

7.4  Shortlisting Process
In line with the University’s Recruitment Guide where an applicant declares an impairment and meets all the ‘Essential’ criteria identified in the Job Specification an invitation to interview will be offered.

A disability disclosure should never be used to inform decisions related to whether the candidate is able to satisfy the essential criteria at interview. Instead, the University is required to ascertain what reasonable adjustments need to be put in place to support the applicant to undertake the essential aspects of the role. 

Once the shortlisting process has been completed, successful applicants will be invited for an interview.

In line with the University’s Recruitment Guide where an applicant declares a disability and meets all the ‘Essential’ criteria identified in the Job Specification an invitation to interview must be offered.

The University does not use disability disclosure inform decisions related to whether the candidate is able to satisfy the essential criteria at interview. Instead, the University is required to ascertain what reasonable adjustments need to be put in place to support the applicant to undertake the essential aspects of the role. 

Once the shortlisting process has been completed, successful applicants will be invited for an interview. 

7.5  Interview / Tests 
Where an applicant has advised that they require a reasonable adjustment(s) for interview, the HR Team will liaise with the applicant and arrange for the appropriate adjustments to be put in place. Examples of adjustments could include:

  • A sign language interpreter at interview;
  • A hearing loop;
  • Extended time to prepare a presentation;
  • Interviews conducted in an accessible venue;
  • Parking provided near the interview location.

At this stage applicants are given the opportunity to indicate in advance if they require any reasonable adjustments and discuss any suggested adjustments that aim to help overcome any disadvantage during the interview and testing stages. The Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Team may also be consulted regarding reasonable adjustments for the interview and assessment(s) stages.  

Any tests/assessments should be relevant to the post. Examples of reasonable adjustments that may be provided include: changes to the format used, additional information relating to the assessment to be provided, allowing a support worker to be present, or allowing additional time to be given to complete the test (allowing at least 25% additional time).

The Chair of the panel and if required other panel members should be briefed and consideration should then be given to applicant’s situation.  The HR Team will provide advice and guidance to the Chair, if required.

At this stage applicants are given the opportunity to indicate in advance if they require any reasonable adjustments and discuss any suggested adjustments that aim to help overcome any disadvantage during the interview and testing stages.

The Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Team may also be consulted regarding reasonable adjustments for the interview and assessment(s) stages.  It is important not to make assumptions about what a disabled person can and cannot do. The majority of disabled people need little or no special support for an interview. Interviews should be specific, examining the skills, training, experience and ability of the interviewee as they relate to the job specifications, not based on assumptions about the interviewee’s impairment.

Information regarding any reasonable adjustment(s) required to attend the interview will only be used for the purposes of facilitating the candidate to attend and participate in the interview.