Disability and employment: reasonable adjustments
Employers must make reasonable adjustments to allow people with disability or injury to work productively and safely. It is up to you whether you tell your employer about your disability, but you may need to do so if it will affect your ability to do your job.
Do I have to disclose my disability to my current or future employer?
You have no legal obligation to tell your employer about your disability.
However, in some situations it may be practical to tell them, for example, if you need changes made to your work environment to help you work safely and productively.
This also applies to when you are applying for jobs. You do not need to mention your disability on your job application or pre-employment forms. It is against the law for an employer to discriminate against a job applicant because of disability.
If a pre-employment form asks for information about disability or illness, you have no legal obligation to disclose and can write ‘not applicable’ for any disability that will not impact on your work performance.
What adjustments do employers need to make?
‘Reasonable’ adjustments are changes to the work environment or conditions that allow people with disability to work safely and productively.
Under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010, employers are required to make these adjustments for a person with disability. Disability includes:
- physical, psychological or neurological disease or disorder
- illness, whether temporary or permanent
- injury, including work-related injuries.
Who do employers need to make adjustments for?
Employers must make reasonable adjustments for people who are:
- applying for a job
- offered employment
- current employees and contract workers.
What is a reasonable adjustment?
Reasonable adjustments are changes that must be made if someone needs them to:
- take part in the recruitment process
- perform the genuine and reasonable requirements of the job.
Adjustments can vary from minor changes to work hours or the performance requirements of the job, or larger changes that require specific equipment or some structural change to the workplace.
Employers can apply for funding support through the Employment Assistance Fund – an Australian Government fund – to help cover the costs of reasonable adjustments.
When is an adjustment not reasonable?
There are no specific rules about what is or isn’t a reasonable adjustment because it depends on the situation. However, an adjustment is likely to be unreasonable if:
- it has a very high cost
- it will cause great disruption in the workplace.
In some cases an employer can lawfully decide not to make the requested adjustments, if:
- the adjustments needed are not considered reasonable in their situation
- the person with the disability could not perform the genuine and reasonable requirements of the job even if the adjustments were made.
An employer may also be able to show that they are acting in compliance with a Disability Standard under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992. If they are doing this, the employer may not have to make other adjustments.
Understand both reasonable adjustments and flexible work arrangements
Reasonable adjustments and flexible work arrangements allow all employees to work safely and productively.
The benefits of both are significant. They improve productivity, profitability, safety, and customer relations.
Watch Julia and Sam below as they provide a simple overview and examples of both types of work requests (two minutes).
How we can help
If you feel you have experienced discrimination when requesting a reasonable adjustment at work, you can make a complaint to us. If you wish, someone else can make a complaint for you.
We can also give you information about your rights.
Find out how you can contact us.
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Victoria has laws to protect people with disability from discrimination, and to ensure that everyone can contribute meaningfully to society.
Employee and workplace rights
All employees deserve to be treated fairly and with respect. Employers’ responsibilities apply across all stages of employment.