A disability can be temporary or ongoing. Some people with disability may face difficulties at work that can be relieved with a workplace adjustment.
A workplace adjustment is a change to a work process, practice, procedure or environment that enables an employee to perform their job and minimises the impact of their disability. A disability can be sensory, intellectual, physical or psychosocial.
Workplace adjustments should address the individual needs of a person to:
- experience equitable terms and conditions of employment
- perform the inherent or essential requirements of their job safely in the workplace
- have equal opportunity in recruitment processes, promotion and ongoing development
- maximise productivity.
Under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992, employers have obligations to make adjustments to accommodate an individual’s disability, unless that adjustment would result in unjustifiable hardship. Unjustifiable hardship could be in the form of:
- financial cost
- an amendment to the physical building that is not possible due to council or other restrictions
- an adjustment that would disadvantage other employees.
Examples of workplace adjustments
- Allowing a person with a disability to have flexibility in their working hours, such as working part-time or starting and/or finishing later, or working remotely for part of the week.
- Redistributing or redesigning minor duties (i.e. not inherent requirements of a job).
- Purchasing or modifying equipment, such as speech recognition software for someone with vision impairment, an amplified phone for a person who is hard of hearing, or a digital recorder for someone who finds it difficult to take written notes.
- Providing additional training, mentoring, supervision and support.
- Providing an Auslan interpreter or captioning for a deaf employee.
- Providing height-adjustable work stations.
- Ensure workplace venues are accessible.
- Seeking the assistance of specialist organisations to support an employee to remain at work.
- A phased return to work for an employee who has been on long term sick leave.
- Regular meetings with supervisors.
Arrange a workplace adjustment
You should discuss any requests for workplace adjustments with your supervisor or employer. Simple adjustments such as flexible work arrangements or use of existing equipment can be organised in this way.
For more complex requests that may require changes to your workplace contact MOPSWHS@finance.gov.au. If necessary, an initial needs assessment can be arranged and conducted by a contracted Rehabilitation Services Provider and may also be supported by the government-funded initiative JobAccess (Employee Assistance Fund).