Why reasonable adjustments must be standard and not an afterthought

  • 22 Mar 2022

The TUC must use its power to argue legislative changes to strengthen the rights of disabled workers to receive “reasonable adjustments” and for employers to be fined if they do not provide them.

A motion at the TUC Disabled Workers’ Conference, held online this year, said Employment Tribunals must liaise with the Equality and Human Rights Commission to investigations employers who are “serial disability discrimination offenders”.

Delegates heard from the mover of the motion from the Prison Officers’ Association who said some of her members had been forced out of their jobs because their employer refused to make changes that would have allowed them to carry out their role.

NUJ delegate Lynn Degele told delegates that she had recently been promoted – her first promotion in 12 years. She said: “This promotion would not have been possible without Reasonable Adjustments. In my case, as someone who is neurodivergent, diagnosed with ADHD and dyspraxia, this encompasses mind mapping software, speech to text software and a smart pen that allows me to record audio of meetings. It also encompasses flexible working, such as extended time in the middle of the day, which I may use to decompress and pace myself.”

Lynn has always been open about her disability. She wrote a blog about her experiences, gave public talks and became active within the NUJ.  She said: “Where I couldn’t get career progression at work, I got it in my union. I was elected to the Disabled Members Council and then chair of my branch.”

By being open about her situation, her colleagues recognised that she needed extra help and offered support. But it took time. She said:

“My reasonable adjustments made me visible, and my hope would be for all disabled workers who need them, to have the right to them, to have the confidence to request them and to work in workplaces where they are seen as standard and not an afterthought.

“By normalising reasonable adjustments, we can make clearer to employers and disabled workers what is possible. This may help to raise awareness amongst employers so that when they interview a disabled worker, they know that they have a starting point to understand what support will be required and is available.”

She told delegates that they must share success stories, be visible in the workplace and ensure that disabled workers have opportunities to progress.

The motion was carried.

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