Disability in the workplace

The Equality Act 2010 defines a disability and requires employers to consider reasonable adjustments to enable people with a disability to work.

A disability is a physical or mental impairment that is long-term and has a substantial adverse effect on normal day-to-day activities.

If you have a disability as defined in the Equality Act, your employer must consider reasonable adjustments to enable you to work. The Equality Act specifies a list of types of adjustments. It is up to the employer to decide on the reasonableness of any adjustments, and they will need to take into account other factors such as safety and cost.

Possible types of reasonable adjustments:

  • Making adjustments to premises
  • Allocating some duties to others
  • Transfer to existing vacancy
  • Altering working hours
  • Assigning to different place of work
  • Time off for rehabilitation, assessment or treatment
  • Arranging training
  • Acquiring or modifying equipment
  • Modifying instructions or reference manuals
  • Modifying procedures for testing or assessment
  • Providing reader or interpreter
  • Providing supervision

Accessing support when working with a disability

1. Talk to your manager first. Let them know what type of disability you have and see if there are some simple reasonable adjustments that can be agreed between you. You may already know of adjustments that have helped you work in previous jobs.

2. Ask if there is an occupational health nurse or doctor who could help with a more detailed assessment of your health and offer recommendations to support you at work.

3. Consider applying to the Access to Work scheme which is explained in more detail below.

4. Check some of the specialist organisations listed below for advice and resources:

For information about support with sign language interpretation online see Sign Translate.

Try the steps above but please don't compromise your own health or safety, or the health and safety of anyone else.

Very occasionally, people do need careers advice about how to find more suitable employment. This is where the specialist organisations are usually very helpful.

Access to Work

If you have a significant disability and need adjustments to enable you to work, you can gain practical support from the Government’s Access to Work scheme.

You must also have a firm offer of a job or hold a contract of employment. If you are returning to work from sickness absence Access to Work will only consider your case within six weeks of the date you return to work.

You, not the employer, need to make the application for support yourself, although someone can help you if necessary.

Access to Work is operated through the Department for Work and Pensions via Jobcentres. Applications need to be made through regional offices.

A disability employment adviser will usually visit the workplace with you and your manager to assess your needs and make recommendations for any practical adjustments. Specialist advisers are called upon for some types of disability.

Access to Work contact and enquiries

Go to this website and search ‘Access to Work’.

When you contact Access to Work via their customer service team, they aim to have an advisor come out to your workplace to assess you within 30 days. Find out more about Access to Work

Contact details:

Address: Ground Floor, South Wing, St Pancras Hospital, 4 St Pancras Way, London NW1 0PE
Phone: 020 3317 3350
Fax: 020 3317 3587

get directions