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Document updated/added on 09.05.2019

Topic: Recruitment

letter enquiring about reasonable adjustments
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Letter enquiring about reasonable adjustments

Letter enquiring about reasonable adjustments

Where a disabled employee has accepted a job offer, it’s worth making enquiries with them at an early stage about any reasonable adjustments they might need or that would help them to perform their job duties and prevent them from being placed at a substantial disadvantage in the workplace.

Equality Act 2010

Under the Equality Act 2010, employers are required to make reasonable adjustments where a physical feature of the work premises or a provision, criterion or practice puts a disabled worker at a substantial disadvantage compared with a non-disabled worker. In addition, where reasonable to do so, employers should provide auxiliary aids and services where a disabled worker would again be at a substantial disadvantage without them, compared to non-disabled workers. You can't, however, pass on the costs of making reasonable adjustments to your disabled worker. You have to pay for them - subject to the adjustment being a reasonable one to make (an employment tribunal is likely to take into account your financial resources, the cost of the adjustment and whether it would be effective in removing the disadvantage).

 

New staff

With a new recruit, you might not know they're disabled because their disability isn't one you can spot and they've not told you about it. The duty to make reasonable adjustments only arises where you know, or reasonably ought to know, that an individual is disabled. So, you could only use our Letter Enquiring About Reasonable Adjustments in those cases where you know the worker is disabled, either because they've told you so or it's visually or otherwise apparent, or you could send it to all new recruits in the interests of creating a more inclusive workplace where workers feel comfortable and confident in disclosing any disability to you. What our letter does is ask the worker about potential reasonable adjustments that you could make before they start work. Alternatively, it gives the worker the option to discuss these with their line manager once they've started employment (perhaps as part of the induction process). Either way, the important thing is to be willing to comply with your statutory duty - and this may also mean seeking professional advice in due course from occupational health or disability experts.

 

Special category personal data

Under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Data Protection Act 2018, information about a worker's physical or mental health is special category personal data. This means you need to ensure you have an additional “special” lawful ground or condition for processing, as well as a lawful basis for processing, the personal data. These include where the worker has freely given their explicit, specific and informed written consent to the processing of the personal data for the particular purposes for which you obtained them, or the processing is necessary for the purposes of carrying out your obligations or exercising your rights under employment law or social security law. In the latter case, you’ll also need to have an appropriate policy document in place, e.g. a data protection policy, which explains both your procedures for securing compliance with the GDPR data protection principles in connection with the processing of such special category personal data and your policies as regards the retention and erasure of such personal data. It’s highly advisable to avoid relying on consent as much as possible in the employment relationship because of the imbalance of power, so you can rely on your employment law obligations as your lawful basis for processing here, i.e. compliance with your duty to make reasonable adjustments under the Equality Act 2010. Do keep the disclosed information confidential as far as possible and make sure you process it in accordance with the terms of your privacy notice. Our letter therefore also refers to treating the disability information as confidential but that you will discuss with the worker if it does need to be disclosed to other staff or to outside third parties.

 

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