Return to the workplace: Making adjustments to the workplace for employees with a disability


As restrictions ease and more and more people return to work, it is essential that employers continue to ensure the workplace is both safe and free from discrimination for all employees. Employers are required to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate employees with a disability to ensure they do not suffer a disadvantage that non-disabled employees do not. In this article, we look at some key matters employers should consider.

The aim of making reasonable adjustments should be to remove, as far as possible, any substantial disadvantage faced by a disabled worker that a non-disabled worker does not experience. When making decisions about reasonable adjustments, all relevant circumstances should be considered, including:

  • How practical the adjustment is
  • The cost of the adjustment
  • How effective the adjustment would be in reducing the disadvantage experienced by the disabled employee.
  • The size of your organisation and its resources

Broadly speaking, there are three types of adjustments you may wish to look at.

Changes to policies and procedures
The pandemic has introduced new models of working in most sectors, and many people have spent months working from home. If disabled employees have been working from home and you have found this to be successful, you may wish to consider whether allowing them to continue working from home would be more suitable for their wellbeing. For example, the physical workplace could put their safety at risk if they have been unable to be vaccinated, or they may be nervous about returning.

Adjustments to help disabled employees with physical barriers in the workplace
While your workplace may have been suitable for disabled employees in the past, social distancing measures may mean substantial changes to the layout of your operations. You should ensure that disabled employees are not negatively impacted by things such as access to a temporary office, layout changes that make it difficult for them to move around, or access to disabled toilets or lifts.

Providing extra equipment to help an employee carry out their role
A good example is where a disabled employee finds it easier to work from home. In this case, employers may need to provide equipment to allow them to do so most effectively. For example, providing a laptop or software. Another example is that where you have an employee who is deaf, you should supply their co-workers with transparent face shields, which will allow the employee to lip read.

The most important step employers can take is to actively consider the needs of their disabled employees. Those with a disability may have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic and the restrictions and could have different needs when returning to the workplace.

To discuss this, or any other employment related matter, please contact Jane directly on 01483 887766, email or start a live chat today.

*This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.


Jane Crosby

Partner, Head of Dispute Resolution & Accredited Mediator

Jane is a Partner based in the Guildford office and she is also Head of the Dispute Resolution team here at Hart Brown. Jane specialises...

Jane Crosby -Head of Dispute Resolution

Partner, Head of Dispute Resolution & Accredited Mediator

Jane Crosby

Jane is a Partner based in the Guildford office and she is also Head of the Dispute Resolution team here at Hart Brown. Jane specialises in employment Law and commercial litigation and brings more than 15 years' experience to her role.

Prior to entering the legal profession, Jane was employed in the aviation industry. This experience is appreciated by many of Jane's clients who note that she is able to take a commercial and pragmatic approach to any legal issue that they face.

Jane acts for a wide range of individuals and businesses and her areas of specialism include aviation, property related industries and IT. Jane regularly advises on aspects of employment law, such as settlement agreements, employment contracts, policies and procedures, redundancies, equal pay, data protection, issues arising from TUPE and reorganisations, the calculation of holiday pay, bonus and commission payments, disciplinary and grievance issues, dismissal and termination issues, the protection of confidential information and the enforcement of restrictive covenants. Jane gets involved in GDPR training for her clients and she is able to deliver tailored employment law training sessions upon request.

As a commercial litigation lawyer, Jane also deals in shareholder and directors disputes, commercial contract disputes and the enforcement of restrictive covenants.

Jane has been involved in successful high value commercial litigation for clients in the High Courts, she is an accredited mediator and she is a member of the Employment Lawyers Association.

Jane is often asked to write for a number of well known publications, including The Daily Mail, The Telegraph and The Week and she has been interviewed on BBC Radio 4.

Here is small selection of the feedback that Jane has received:

“Jane, I cannot sincerely thank you enough for your wise counsel and am delighted to have made your acquaintance. If I am blessed with a new position somewhere I will hand over my contract in the first instance to you. Likewise, any of my friends, peers, romans and countrymen wanting advice, I will point them in your direction.”

“Jane, you have been most resilient on my behalf for which I sincerely thank you for all your endeavours. I have a tremendous working relationship with Hart Brown and you have undoubtedly compounded this further."

“I appreciated the clarity of advice given at a stressful time”.

“A sensitive and highly professional approach and efficient work in the interests of the client”.

“Your advice, conduct and assistance have been indeed outstanding and very professional but also – and most importantly – very humane”.