What is the reasonable adjustment in the workplace

Do you have a disabled employee in your workplace who needs special care or attention? If your answer is yes, you as an employer should know that you are obligated to make reasonable adjustments in the work condition to meet the specific needs of your disabled employees. These changes can be made in order to provide physical and psychological support to employees. In this way, the employer can also benefit from having a committed workforce with high productivity.

In this blog, we are going to explain the need for reasonable adjustments, workplace adjustment policy, mental health adjustments in the workplace, as well as examples.

What is the reasonable adjustment in the workplace?

Employers can reduce or eliminate the possibility of workers’ disability by making reasonable adjustments. They can also moderate the work environment for an employee with a disability. In other words, workplace adjustment is a change in the work process, procedure, or workplace that enables employees with disabilities to perform their work tasks effectively. These modifications reduce the destructive effects on their disability. These changes allow:

  • An employee with a disability can perform work-related requirements safely.
  • Creating an equal and equitable opportunity in the process of hiring and encouraging people with disabilities
  • Productivity in the workplace increases

There are many examples of reasonable adjustments in the workplace. For instance, you may have a disabled employee who uses a wheelchair. In this case, you can consider an accessible car parking space near the entrance of the office for him/her. Or your employee may have an illness such as epilepsy; if an attack happens, you can give him/her a chance to start work later.

Therefore, you, as an employer, should consider a reasonable adjustment in the workplace for people with disability in the following cases:

  • You know you have an employee with a disability.
  • An employee or job applicant with a disability asks you to make some modifications.
  • Absence records, delays in returning to work, and illness of an employee are related to his or her disability.

Therefore, if the adjustment is reasonable, the employer must take it into account; otherwise, the employer is likely to discriminate.

Mental health adjustments in the workplace

Individuals with mental illnesses have the right to ask their employer to make changes in their work environment. Schizophrenia, depression, or bipolar disorder are among the mental disorders. Most of the adjustments you can make for these types of employees are simple and inexpensive. For example:

  • You can set flexible working hours for employees with mental illness so that they can easily make an appointment to meet their therapist.
  • Define quiet areas in the workplace so that employees can relax during stressful periods
  • Provide programs for the improvement and health of employees
  • If a person has recently returned to work, you can give him/her a chance to recover by implementing policies such as reducing working hours or assigning simpler tasks.


Examples of reasonable adjustments in the workplace

  • Provide a suitable phone for employees who use the hearing aid
  • Placement of suitable chairs for employees who suffer from back disorders
  • Supply of specialized and additional equipment such as speech recognition software for workers with vision impairment or digital recorder for those who find it difficult to take notes
  • Possibility of teleworking for days of the week for people with disabilities
  • Getting help from someone like a sign language interpreter
  • Giving frequently breaks for workers with diabetes to get enough food or drink throughout the day
  • More support for employees who suffer from anxiety
  • Providing extra training, mentoring, supervision, and support
  • Giving extra time for a person with dyslexia to take tests or tasks related to reading and writing as part of the job or interview process


Who pays for reasonable adjustments?

If the adjustment is reasonable, the employer must pay the costs.


Adjustments in the workplace based on OSHA: COVID-19 Pandemic

As you know, in recent months, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many employers have had to implement new adjustments in the workplace. Accordingly, Osha defined guidelines for employers so that they can create a safer work environment for their employees:

  • Teleworking as much as possible
  • Limiting the number of personnel in the workplace
  • Providing accommodations to workers at higher risk of severe illness, as defined by the US Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC)
  • Limiting non-essential travel
  • Developing practices to specify when, where, how, and what sources are likely to expose workers to COVID-19
  • Developing strategies for hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette, and cleaning and disinfection
  • Encouragement to maintain distance between all people, including workers, customers, and visitors
  • Identification of sick workers

In addition to the above, OSHA permits employers to conduct the worksite COVID-19 testing, temperature checks, health screening as well as providing personal protective equipment.


Let’s sum up…

Making changes in the workplace has many benefits for both the employer and employees, especially employees with disabilities. Fortunately, implementing most of these changes does not cost much, but it does help increase employees’ productivity and commitment.  Therefore, we recommend that you make these constructive adjustments according to OSHA’s instructions and the conditions of your employees.

The Southern Nevada Occupational Health Center in Las Vegas, with more than ten years of experience and expert staff, tries to provide a safe work environment for employers by providing diagnostic, screening, treatment, and training services.

For more information about the services of this center, you can refer to the menu at the top of the page. Also, feel free to ask your questions so that our experts can answer them as soon as possible.

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