Health & Safety Department

Reasonable adjustments

Explanation of reasonable adjustments

What are reasonable adjustments?

Under the Equality Act 2010 employers have a duty to make reasonable adjustments to any elements of the job which place a disabled person at a substantial disadvantage compared to non-disabled people. Sometimes this may mean treating disabled staff more favourably than non-disabled staff.

The duty to make reasonable adjustments applies if a manager becomes aware, or could reasonably be expected to be aware, that an individual has a disability even if that disability has not been disclosed by the individual. A failure to make reasonable adjustments is a form of discrimination under current law.

Examples of reasonable adjustments may include, but are not limited to:

  • Changes to working hours/pattern, or flexible working;
  • Changes to work location, or home-working when required;
  • Paid time off for assessment or treatment;
  • Covering the costs of dyslexia assessments;
  • Alterations to the working environment or procedures;
  • Purchase or modification of equipment;
  • Reallocation of duties;
  • Redeployment.

Full guidance can be found at Guidance on supporting disabled staff

Workplace adjustment form and guidance

To support staff and managers in discussing, agreeing and recording reasonable adjustments, the Staff Disability Advice Service has developed a Workplace adjustments form.

This is a live record of adjustments agreed between the staff member and their line manager. For more information, please read the Workplace adjustments form - guide for staff and managers.

For a printable version of the form which you can fill out by hand, click here.

Who is responsible for paying for reasonable adjustments?

Not all adjustments will have a cost, for example if a staff member needs to change their start and end working time but still do the same number of hours overall, this is a cost-free reasonable adjustment. Where there is a cost, there are a few options detailed below:

a) Access to Work

Access to Work (ATW) is a government fund run by the Department for Work and Pensions to support disabled people to remain or take up paid work. Disabled people need to apply for ATW themselves but line managers should assist with and facilitate the process. Managers will need to sign-off any funding agreements and agree to workplace assessments if this is required. If equipment has been recommended, departments/ schools will typically purchase the equipment and then reclaim the costs from ATW.

Ideally a staff member should apply for ATW before they start their job or within the first 6 weeks as ATW will consider paying 100% of the costs. If a staff member applies after this time period cost sharing will apply between the employer and ATW.

There are some exclusions that ATW will not cover, for example ATW is unlikely to pay for the cost of purchasing standard office equipment, even if it is needed by a disabled employee only because of the barriers they are experiencing in the workplace. 

Whilst requests for ATW support need to be made directly by disabled individuals, making applications to ATW should be viewed as a collaborative process by managers of disabled staff; for example, the barriers experienced by the individual employee should be discussed with and supported by a manager prior to any application being made. This will strengthen the likelihood of ATW granting the type of support requested and will help to ensure that the support needed by individuals is smoothly and successfully provided.

Managers need to ensure that disabled employees are aware of ATW funding as making ATW applications will maximise the available support to disabled people and help the University to remove barriers in the workplace.

More information about this can be found on the Access to Work Employer Factsheet with a BSL Access to Work factsheet for customers

b) The Department/ School Budget

Where possible, the costs of reasonable adjustments should be covered from school/departmental budgets. This would include those employees whose employment is supported by external funding. It is unlawful to require staff to make any financial contributions to the cost of reasonable adjustments. Also, if there is a cost share through ATW the department/ school would need to cover this. 

c) The Estates Department

The Estates Department may cover the cost for alterations to buildings or the cost of evacuation equipment for disabled staff, where needed. Any queries about accessibility related to the estate at the University email: or Telephone: 0131 650 2494 (ext 502494).

Queries for information about Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans please see Assisted Evacuation, or you can contact the Fire Safety Unit at