What are “reasonable adjustments”?
Under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth), employers must make all reasonable adjustments to ensure their employees with disabilities can carry out the inherent requirements of their job.
Reasonable adjustments could include:
- Reducing the employee’s working hours, if the employee’s disability causes them fatigue
- Changing the employee’s reporting lines, if the employee’s manager is aggravating their mental illness
- Relocating the employee to an office closer to their home, if their disability is making their commute burdensome
To what extent must you make reasonable adjustments?
Employers must make those adjustments up to the point that it would cause them “unjustifiable hardship”, which is a bar that changes depending on the size and nature of the business, and the costs of the adjustments. If, despite such adjustments, the employee still cannot perform the inherent requirements of the job, only then can the employer lawfully terminate their employment.
What should you do if you have an employee with a disability that appears to be affecting their performance?
Your two key responsibilities are to:
- Determine what are the “inherent requirements” of their (pre-adjusted) position; and
- Consider what adjustments could be make that would allow the employee to perform them.
If you are uncertain about what adjustments should be made, consider engaging an independent medical practitioner to assess the employee. They will be able to give you clear guidance on whether the employee would be able to carry out the inherent requirements of the job, and what adjustments would be required for them to do so.
Contact us for more information.