Workplace adjustments are changes to the work environment that allow employees with disability to work safely and productively.
Workplace adjustments to support employee performance
Workplace adjustments can:
- increase work performance
- increase retention of productive and committed staff
- increase staff capabilities
- improve access to buildings by employees and customers
- become part of your everyday work practices.
Common types of workplace adjustments include adjustments to:
- work methods, such as providing additional training or mentoring or adjusting tasks
- work arrangements, including changes to working hours, for example to part-time hours, starting and finishing later or time off work for rehabilitation programs
- workplace equipment or facilities, including provision of additional software or equipment, such as voice activated software or ergonomic equipment
- work-related communications including the form or format in which information is available, such as providing documents to a person with low vision in text format rather than as scanned images.
Most people with disability will not require major adjustments to be made in the workplace and many will require no adjustment at all. In the event that some adjustment is required, there are many workplace products and solutions that can assist employees to undertake job essentials, with financial assistance available to cover the cost of these, subject to approval.
Employers have a responsibility to provide reasonable adjustments for employees with disability to allow them to participate in the workplace on an equal basis.
Adjustments to the recruitment process
Employers must provide applicants with disability with reasonable adjustments or flexibilities in the selection process. Reasonable adjustments could include requests for an Auslan interpreter for a person who is hearing impaired or physical access requirements for a person in a wheelchair.
You should ensure that requested adjustments are delivered to applicants, including when using outsourced recruitment providers.
The best way to ensure people with disability are able to access a recruitment process on an equal footing with other applicants is to ensure selection documentation clearly states that reasonable adjustments are available upon request. Such requests are usually directed to the contact officer for the vacancy.
Reasonable adjustments in the recruitment process could include:
- making all recruitment materials such as job descriptions, application forms and questionnaires available in accessible or alternative formats
- scrapping medical tests or aptitude tests that are unrelated to essential job requirements
- providing alternatives to written tests
- ensuring that interviews or other assessments are held in an accessible venue and that the process caters to the access needs of all candidates, for example by arranging for relevant supports to be available such as Auslan interpreters, employment support workers or attendant carers.
The best way to ensure that you are meeting the needs of the applicant is to ask them. A video about reasonable adjustments can be found at www.apsc.gov.au/managing-in-the-aps/disability/leading-the-way#reasonable.
Training and development
Reasonable adjustments in training and developing employees with disability could include:
- extending training time or probation for workers with cognitive impairment or learning disability
- allowing external support workers from specialist employment or disability services onsite if necessary for orientation and learning assistance
- introducing a workplace buddy or mentor system
- arranging disability awareness training for co-workers, supervisors and managers
- organising interpreters, readers or support people for induction or formal staff training occasions.
Government services—JobAccess and Employment Assistance Fund
The Australian Government provides financial assistance for equipment and other workplace adjustments. JobAccess Advisers are available to help you identify suitable equipment and modifications. There are also free workplace assessments available through the Employment Assistance Fund to help employers and people with disability to make workplaces accessible.
Common adjustments and modifications that may be funded through the fund include:
- items that improve physical accessibility such as ramps, toilets, parking, handrails on steps, clear markings or colour contrasts on steps, clearing aisles or moving filing cabinets
- sound reduction devices or air cleaning systems
- visual as well as audible fire alarms
- accessible communications, technology and strategies such as vibrating pagers, large screen computer monitors, video magnifiers, screen-reading or voice-activated software, information in alternative formats
- ergonomic or specialist equipment e.g. adjustable desks, manual handling devices, electric trolleys.