The word ‘reasonable’ crops up everywhere in law. Put bluntly, this isn’t terribly helpful, but there isn’t much choice. For employment purposes, it refers to what changes an employer or recruiter must make to accommodate a blind or partially sighted applicant, interview candidate, new starter or settled employee to help them do their job.
Quite often, these adjustments have little or no costs attached to them. It could be that someone with low or no vision needs electronic information to be sent to them in a particular file type. This might seem time-consuming to start with, but really takes no time at all and, after a while, would become second nature, something people find they are happy to do for any valued colleague. The way most of us would act when confronted with a reasonable request. An unreasonable adjustment might be the same person demanding that a colleague takes time away from their regular workload to read all files and mail to them word for word. This is time-consuming and costly for an employer and would consequently be quite unreasonable.
Other good reasonable adjustment examples might be:
- Guidance by a colleague when out and about (by this we mean letting a colleague with sight loss take your arm to reach a place you are both travelling to)
- Some extra desk space to accommodate larger computer equipment or exemption from a hot desking policy
- A little extra help getting from A to B during inductions
- Making sure staff know to introduce themselves by name, if the person in question feels this would help, as it can take a little longer to remember voices than faces
It should go without saying that these adjustments are not restricted to sight loss. They are, however, written into British law under the equality Act 2010 and failure to take such requests very seriously could easily result in an employment tribunal.