Removing barriers to work: a guide to requesting adjustments in your career

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Careers Consultants Beka Kimberley and Catherine Alexander share their advice for getting reasonable adjustments at work for a disability and information on new appointments with us this term

The Equality Act 2010 states that an employer has a legal duty to remove barriers a person might face because of their disability So that disabled people can apply for jobs and do the job in the same way as someone who does not have that disability. We have covered the basics of reasonable adjustments in our earlier blog

However, a lot of students have questions about how you can know what reasonable adjustments are suitable in a job or situation you have never faced before.

You may find employers have been told that they shouldn’t assume all disabled applicants and/or employees face the same barriers- and that individuals are the experts in how your condition affects them- and how it doesn’t. This is great advice, but being the expert can seem daunting, particularly if you are newly diagnosed, have never had a graduate job, your health condition varies, or you are new to a particular workplace or recruitment process.

Remember, the ‘reasonable adjustments’ conversation is ideally a collaborative one. Both you and the employer have the shared goal of making sure you can perform at your full potential.

You could prepare a short opening phrase to begin this conversation, something like “I may require some reasonable adjustments to access the recruitment process/work. Could I talk to someone about it to make sure we both have the information we need to get everything in place?”

Asking the employer for more details about what a typical day involves will help you both to identify and mitigate any potential barriers. You could ask to visit the physical space being used in advance of an interview or your first day at work so you can assess it or familiarise yourself with it. This could also provide a good opportunity for a more in depth conversation and a chance to see the tasks existing employees are doing.

The following list is a useful way to structure identifying any adjustments you might need.

A green table. There are three columns with the titles "Aspect of the job/recruitment process", "What barriers might arise?", and "What adjustments might help mitigate these barriers?" at the top of each column. Some examples are given in the first column about the aspect of the job/recruitment. These are "Getting to and from work", "Access to and around building", "Instructions and tasks", "Communication", "Workspace", "Computer and/or equipment", "Breaktimes and mealtimes", and "Other". The other two columns are blank for the individual to decide what barriers would arise and how that can be mitigated.

These lists of common reasonable adjustments will give you ideas about what other people have found helpful

The conversation isn’t something that only happens once. Be pro-active in suggesting you meet a few days or weeks after starting work in order to review and refine any initial adjustments.

Remember, an adjustment doesn’t have to be complicated or involve equipment. It could be as simple as wanting your manager or colleagues to be aware of your condition or flexible start times.

It is your decision whether and when to begin this conversation; for example before application, during recruitment, or after starting work. If you want to talk it through with someone, confidentially and impartially then you can book a careers appointment.

The Careers Service runs ringfenced appointments for disabled students to discuss
  • Talking to an employer about your disability
  • Reasonable adjustments – helping you to work out what adjustments you might need
  • Impact of a disability on career choice
  • Explaining unusual timelines on an application or CV
  • Other disability specific careers discussion

To make an appointment with a Careers Consultant to discuss your disability in the context of careers just choose the Disability Appointment option in Handshake appointments. If you find navigating Handshake difficult just contact and our friendly team will help you.

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