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What are reasonable adjustments, and how to ask for them

Workers with disabilities or health conditions are legally entitled to reasonable adjustments under the Equality Act 2010 - here's how to speak to your employer about them

Being diagnosed with a neurological condition often means so much more than a change in your health. You may feel you can no longer work in the ways you used to, or worry about workplace discrimination

In this guest article, The Brain Charity’s Employment Law and Welfare Officer Aneeta Bibi shares how to ask your employer for reasonable adjustments. 

What are reasonable adjustments?

A ‘reasonable adjustment’ is a change that must be made to remove or reduce a disadvantage related to:

  • An employee’s disability when doing their job
  • A job applicant’s disability when applying for a job

Reasonable adjustments must be effective, practical, and significant. A reasonable adjustment could involve making changes to:

  • The workplace
  • Equipment or services provided, for example an appropriate keyboard for someone with arthritis
  • The ways things are done
  • An individual’s working pattern

The law behind disability and reasonable adjustments

You are considered disabled under the Equality Act 2010 if you have a physical or mental impairment that has a ‘substantial’ and ‘long-term’ negative effect on your ability to do normal daily activities.

Under the Equality Act 2010, there is a legal duty on employers to make reasonable adjustments for disabled employees. The Act recognises that solutions may vary according to individual circumstances.

When should I disclose my disability?

Disclosing a disability to a current or potential employer can be a stressful but necessary step. The fear of discrimination, unconscious bias and other negative consequences leads many to withhold information about their physical or mental health from others.

However, telling an employer about a disability — be it visible, like cerebral palsy, or invisible, like chronic migraine — may be necessary to receive adequate accommodations to perform your job.

Close up of hand holding a pen and signing a document

Disclosing in a cover letter is the most common way, but you may need to disclose before an interview or assessment for adjustments to be made. It is important your employer knows about your disability before requesting reasonable adjustments.

How can I request reasonable adjustments?

An employee who needs a reasonable adjustment should talk with their manager or employer. It’s a good idea to meet, so:

  • The employee can explain their situation
  • The employer can understand how they can help
  • They can discuss and agree on possible adjustments together

It’s important to then put anything agreed in writing.

The role of Occupational Health

People often know exactly what support they need or how to remove a particular barrier. If additional advice, guidance, or support is needed, Occupational Health can provide expert advice on reasonable adjustments and workplace accommodations.

Who pays for reasonable adjustments?

The employer is responsible for paying for any reasonable adjustments. Costs can vary and can be dependent upon the size of the organisation.

There is money available that may help fund reasonable adjustments, such as an Access to Work grant, which is money for practical support to help someone do their job. This can pay for things like:

  • An expert assessment
  • Specialist equipment
  • Travel when public transport cannot be used
  • A support worker

What happens if my employer fails to provide reasonable adjustments?

An employer’s failure to make reasonable adjustments for a worker or applicant with a disability will fall under discrimination under the 2010 Equality Act.

In most cases, you can make an informal complaint or raise a formal grievance about the employer. However, in some cases, an employer could also find themselves facing a claim for unlawful discrimination before an employment tribunal.

Support from The Brain Charity

The Brain Charity’s employment team can also offer additional support when requesting reasonable adjustments. This is in the form of a letter which describes your disability alongside the adjustments you would need.

This is backed by medical reports and occupational health recommendations. If an employer is not cooperating, we can write a letter to support your request and explain the law behind providing adjustments.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding reasonable adjustments, please contact The Brain Charity’s employment team on

Categories: Advice, Employment, Guest blogs

Published: 27 December 2022