In this Post I wanted to let you all know about Disability Adjustment Agreements, what they are, how they work and when should HR Professionals, Directors and Business Owners use them.
First, Disability Adjustment Agreements are a means of formally noting ‘reasonable adjustments’ that have been agreed by an employee with disability and their manager. Many of you reading this will know that it is likely to be muggins from HR who will take responsibility for doing this.
Their purpose is to:
- Ensure both the employee with the disability and muggins from HR have an accurate record of what has been agreed.
- Minimise the need re-negotiate ‘reasonable adjustments’ every time something changes in their job, they move Departments or are assigned a new line-manager.
- Provide an employee with a disability and their line-manager with the basis for discussing ‘reasonable adjustments’.
Having briefly considered what their purpose is, how should you use them and when?
Many HR Professionals have been making informal agreements with regard to ‘reasonable adjustments’ for employees with disabilities since the original Disability Discrimination Act was created in 1995. I would suspect that some of you thought outside the box around such issues prior to that (showing my age here). HR Professionals did not use the same terminology, but it was still a rose by a different name.
In my consultancy work I often meet HR Professionals who tell me about the things that have already been put in place for an employee with a disability, but having thought that what had been done, was seen as ‘reasonable’ by all concerned, the goalposts have been widened to include new work related issues not mentioned in the past. This is where the important commodity of trust starts to breakdown. We all know what it is like when you have tried to persuade another person that you have acted with reasonable intent. However, they come back with the old adage what you heard and what you thin you are two completely different things.
Right this is getting a bit too deep and philosophical.
Another thing I have noticed in my consultancy work with employers of all sizes is that things are often left unresolved and only dealt with when the fire extinguishers are called into action. I suggest that once an applicant with a work related disability need has formally accepted and completed all relevant checks and has a start date, a Disability Adjustment Agreement should be completed as part of their Induction. Yes, you heard me correctly. Some HR Professionals would argue that a new employee will not have enough of an understanding at the early stages of their new job to know what things should be put in place as ‘reasonable adjustments’. Remember the Equality Act covers the whole recruitment process from start to finish. I can tell you that having worked for proactive and reactive employers, I am right. It is much easier for many people with disabilities to actually tell a complete stranger what help they need than somebody they know well, possibly their manager or a close colleague. Employees tell me because they have no reason to fear me or nothing to loose by being honest.
They should also be used where evidence exists during a long-term absence as part of a Phased Return to Work Agreement. Over the last 20 years I have advised HR Managers, Directors and Business Owners about needing to look at what the employee with a disability is actually going to do and how. Many Phased Returns cover the temporary change to a work pattern, an agreed format and need for a review. However, many fail to actually look at what work the employee with a disability is able to do and then ‘benchmark’ it as part of the essential review process if a Phased Return to Work is to be successful. It also allows for more appropriate questions to be asked of Occupational Health Providers.
You can learn more about this subject here.
You can apply this to anyone else who needs adjustments or flexible working perhaps?
Disability Adjustment Agreement Template click to download
The Disability Adjustment Agreement is in a PDF format. If you would like me to provide you with a Word version so you can amend it to suit your own branding, please E-mail me. I am happy to add your logo etc, if you would prefer me to do this for you.
You can also get my E-book here.
If this is an area you already know well, perhaps you should also read about the Empowerment Passport, with Mandy Whalley.