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Reasonable adjustments - guidance for businesses

Under Section 20 of the Equality Act 2010, if a disabled person is placed at a substantial disadvantage when in comparison with someone who does not hold that disability, then a business may be legally required to take steps to make reasonable adjustments to their policies, practices or premises to minimise this disadvantage.

A disabled person may be at a disadvantage due to a provision, criterion, or practise (PCP), a physical feature of your organisation or business or a failure to provide, or the absence of an auxiliary aid. Failing to act upon this duty may open a business up to a legal claim being brought against them under the Equality Act.

This duty is not only owed by employers to employees. Businesses and organisations that provide a service or perform public functions are also be obliged to comply with this duty to service users. Housing associations and government departments, such as the police, health services, education providers and local councils also have a duty to make reasonable adjustments where possible.

 

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Can a request for an adjustment be unreasonable?

Whether a business is an employer, or a service provider, there is always the concern that they may not be able to provide an adjustment that has been requested. Under the Equality Act, there is no concrete definition as to what is ‘reasonable’. This will entirely be dependent on the individual circumstances of the request with a court considering the nature of and financial resources available to the business in the context of the request and the practicality of the adjustment when determining the issue.

Although a business may not be able to provide exactly what has been requested by an individual, it will still be expected to take all reasonable steps to minimise any disadvantage that the affected person may have experienced or be experiencing in comparison to a person who is not disabled.

Therefore generally, a business will not be legally obliged to make, or implement adjustments if they can be justified to be unreasonable in the circumstances. However, a business should not ignore or dismiss any requests that are presented to them. Such should be carefully considered and explored to alleviate any detriment suffered by an individual service user to reach a satisfactory, appropriate and practical resolution. A business will need to prove that they have taken all reasonable steps to make a reasonable adjustment if the disadvantaged person alleges that they have failed in any way.

If you are an employer, small business owner, housing association, or any other service provider, and you are unsure where you stand on your Equality Act duties and obligations, please do not hesitate to get in contact and make an enquiry with our discrimination law specialists.

Stephensons discrimination law solicitors are experts in their field, specialising in both cases brought in the civil courts and employment tribunals across the country. Call us on 0161 696 6170.

  • Reasonable Adjustments Explained

    Abigail Martland and Kasey Hamer provide a brief overview of reasonable adjustments and the obligations business owners and organisations have in relation to them.

    If you are an employer, small business owner, housing association, or any other service provider, and you are unsure where you stand on making reasonable adjustments please contact our experts.

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