How workplace adjustments will improve your environment
18th February 2016
Why should you make reasonable adjustments?
It is often assumed that employers only need to make reasonable adjustments for those employees who have a physical disability and that any adjustments are to do with desks, chairs and wheelchair ramps.
The law is clear and ensures that disabled workers are not disadvantaged when doing their job or even when applying for jobs. But do employers understand the breadth of the term ‘disability’? According to the Equality Act 2010 you are considered disabled if you “have a physical or mental impairment that has a ‘substantial’ and ‘long-term’ negative effect on your ability to do normal daily activities”.
An increasing number of employers are facing challenges when dealing with employees who have mental health issues, and they struggle with how to address such issues. This is especially the case for SME’s who are affected by high levels of absenteeism due to mental health, which can be financially challenging.
Making reasonable adjustments for a mentally disabled employee is often harder but it could be the slightest changes to working patterns, hours or allowing the employee to have their own desk rather than hot–desking that makes all the difference. The key to tackling the issue of making reasonable adjustments, like with most other things, is communication. Regularly communicating with employees and asking them how they are coping and checking if they think there are any other adjustments the company could make is fundamental to the process. This does not mean that all requests can be met but finding reasonable adjustments is the aim.
If the relationship between employer and employee is comfortable enough it can be worth trying to understand the triggers and whether if possible how these could be avoided, although it is often the case the triggers are not work related. It is important to realise that everyone’s experience of mental health is different and this means that what may work for one person would not necessarily help another person.
What’s the worst thing you can do?
Don’t ignore the fact that an employee has a disability and hope that it will sort itself out. If this happens then the likelihood is that the situation, whether that is absenteeism or productivity, will get worse. Employers who listen and support their employees with disabilities get better levels of engagement and usually see an improvement with absenteeism and productivity. 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience mental health issues in their lifetime so it is likely that all employers will need to address it at one stage or another.
Vicky Murphy, STEP HR Adviser
If you would like further information about how to handle mental health issues in your place of work then please contact STEP HR today: 01786 463416 or email the team: email@example.com
Marketing Manager at STEP, Jenn is a forward-thinking senior marketing professional offering a unique combination of creativity and analytical skills, with the ability to assess both vantage points simultaneously for an effective balance of branding and sound business decisions which have been proven to be easily transferable into a variety of positions.
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