Q&A: Can I refuse to make a reasonable adjustment if I can’t afford it?
For the second blog in our employment law series, we look at whether it’s possible to reject a reasonable adjustment request because of the cost.
Would you know what to do if you got a reasonable adjustment request? Few employers do.
That’s why they call BrightAdvice—our employment law helpline—to ask for help from our HR experts. But don’t reach for your phone just yet…
Because we’ve got the answer to this tricky HR problem right here.
My disabled employee has recently asked me to make reasonable adjustments for them at work.
I want to make their working life easier. But as we’re only a small company, I don’t have a lot of money to spare.
This is the first time I’ve ever had this type of request, and I don’t know if I’m able to refuse it. Can you help me?
Our HR expert’s answer
It’s important to know that under the Employment Equality Acts 1998-2015, you must make reasonable adjustments for any disabled employee.
These adjustments can vary. For example, your employee might ask to take regular breaks or get special equipment (such as a lower desk) to help them complete their work.
But according to guidance, the cost of an adjustment and the employer’s finances should factor in when deciding whether an adjustment is reasonable or not.
So in theory, if you can show that making a reasonable adjustment will result in a significant financial loss for your business, you could avoid making it. But bear in mind that this could leave you at risk of disability discrimination.
Instead, you should sit down with your employee and make sure you understand exactly what they need to do their job—it might not be as costly as you think.
Plus, you will need to prove that you’ve explored other options (for example government funding) before rejecting a reasonable adjustment request.
Struggling with another HR issue?
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