This guidance sets out the process for supporting new and existing disabled staff. The aim is to create a framework for a collaborative dialogue between the member of staff and their line manager with professional advice being sought from an HR Adviser, Occupational Health, Disability Services and where appropriate specialist external agencies to ensure the member of staff is supported effectively.

The Equality and Diversity team have developed a checklist for managers, encouraging an open and positive dialogue about disability. Managers are encouraged to use this document to help guide and shape their discussions with staff, as it helps to put welfare needs and practical adjustments at the heart of the converstion. Make a copy of the encouraging positive conversations checklist.

All information exchanged as part of the collaborative dialogue will be treated confidentially and with sensitivity and will be passed on to other colleagues only when that is necessary in order that the University can appropriately address matters with the member of staff and meet its obligations under equality, employment and health and safety legislation. The member of staff will be kept informed when information about them is being provided to other relevant parties.

New members of staff

All new members of staff are required to complete a health questionnaire that is returned to Occupational Health, in confidence. The Occupational Health Adviser, in consultation with the Occupational Health Physician if required, will assess the responses to the questionnaire and if necessary will arrange to meet the appointee to discuss their disability.

Occupational Health will send a report to their recruiting manager, with a copy to HR Services, confirming whether the appointee is fit to undertake the role they have been offered. In the event that any potential Health and Safety issues are identified by Occupational Health, HR or the recruiting manager, these will be raised with either departmental or central Health and Safety Officers.

In addition, Occupational Health will discuss any adjustments that will be required with the member of staff and forward specific recommendations to their recruiting manager. Occupational Health will inform the member of staff about the 'Access to Work' scheme. The recruiting manager in consultation with the HR Adviser will decide what reasonable adjustments are to be put in place.

Disability Services will - as required - provide specialist advice - in partnership with HR - about auxiliary aids, equipment or other reasonable adjustments to the member of staff and their line manager, who is responsible for ensuring that appropriate adjustments are put in place as soon as reasonably practicable.

Current staff

If a member of staff becomes disabled, or experiences a change in a pre-existing disability the University will consider and implement reasonable adjustments to enable the member of staff to continue in their role. It is the responsibility of the Head of the Department or Section in which the member of staff works to ensure that their disability is appropriately assessed and that reasonable adjustments are implemented. Confidentiality will be maintained by relevant colleagues who, with the consent of the staff member, may be provided with relevant information on a need to know basis.

When a member of staff has a disability that they are well used to managing, and there is some change in their condition or the requirements of their work then a review of their support arrangements/reasonable adjustments may be necessary. A dialogue between the member of staff, their line manager and HR Adviser may be the most appropriate starting point. A referral to Occupational Health or Access to Work would usually then be initiated if a further assessment is required.

Typically there are four stages to the process:

Stage 1 - Initial dialogue

The initial step is for the member of staff to talk to their line manager about their disability. Staff should record the nature of their disability in MyView*. If the line manager is aware of the disability and/or is seeing signs that a disability has an impact upon the member of staff's ability to carry out their role they should initiate discussion with him/her.

* Members of staff should note that changing their disability status on My View will not alert anyone. Direct communication is required with the line manager or HR Adviser to start the process of identifying support needs.

The line manager handling the matter should inform their HR Adviser and agree with them how to take the matter forward, consulting and informing the member of staff throughout.

If for any reason the member of staff does not feel able to have the initial conversation with their line manager they should talk to the HR Adviser for their department. The HR Adviser will seek to facilitate a three-way dialogue involving themselves, the member of staff and their line manager.

Either the member of staff or the line manager may consult Occupational Health and/or Disability Services in an advisory capacity including discussing what previous reasonable adjustments and auxiliary aids have proved useful. However, no adjustments will be put in place until an assessment has been undertaken and agreed with the line manager, involving the HR Adviser as appropriate. This is to ensure that reasonable adjustments can be put in place with professional advice as soon as possible avoiding, in most cases multiple attempts to make adjustments.

If any potential or actual Health and Safety issues, for example, fire safety and the need for a Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan (PEEP) are identified these need to be brought to the attention of the departmental or central Health and Safety officers immediately.

Stage 2 - Assessment of disability

It is important that the aspects of the disability detailed below are assessed before seeking to identify the most appropriate course of action:

  • the nature and current level of severity of the disability
  • the impact of the disability upon the staff member's work
  • the impact of work upon the health of the member of staff

In order to obtain an assessment, in most cases a referral should be made to Occupational Health who will make the assessment, often obtaining information from those providing health care to the member of staff.

Stage 3 - Assessment of impact and needs

Once the nature and an understanding of the current impact on work of the disability is established in discussion with the member of staff, reasonable adjustments may then be considered to enable the individual to undertake their role.

Staff may be advised to apply to Access to Work who currently provide funding for reasonable adjustments.

Whatever the employment status of the applicant, Access to Work will pay 100 per cent of the approved costs of:

  • additional costs of travel to work for people who are unable to use public transport;
  • a support worker or reader to provide help in the workplace;
  • a communicator for support at job interviews.*

* Extract from the 'Disability Rights UK Factsheet F27-Access to Work'

Occupational Health, as part of their assessment of the disability, will identify if adjustments need to be made and forward information of these to the line manager. It is the responsibility of the line manager, in consultation with HR, to decide what adjustments can reasonably be made in the specific context in which the member of staff is working. Where relevant, advice should also be sought from the departmental or central Health and Safety Officer before agreeing a course of action.

Stage 4 - Action

Following assessment one or more of a number of courses of action may be required:

  • Reasonable adjustments to role
    In some cases it may be that the member of staff may be unable to undertake a limited number of duties associated with their role. Where the changes are minor and do not substantially affect the role it may be possible to redistribute work within the section so that they can continue in their role. However, where adjustments to the role are significant, discussions regarding the impact of these adjustments need to take place.

    The HR Adviser should be involved in discussions with the line manager prior to any role adjustment(s) being agreed. This is to ensure that what is agreed is appropriate for the member of staff and any colleagues whose duties may be affected by any proposed changes. The member of staff and their line manager should discuss on an on-going basis that the adjustments continue to be effective.
  • Provision of equipment and auxiliary aids identified through assessment
    This might range from a specialist operator chair for someone experiencing back, neck or shoulder pain, to voice activated software for someone diagnosed as dyslexic through to a suite of equipment for someone with a serious visual impairment.
  • Provision of Physical Adjustments to University Estate
    In consultation with the University's Access Adviser and Estates Services Colleagues physical adjustments to the University Estate as a reasonable adjustment will be given due consideration.
  • Redeployment options
    Where it is concluded that the nature and impact of the disability means it is not possible to make adjustments for the member of staff to safely continue in their current role the University has an obligation to explore whether there are vacancies in roles that the member of staff could undertake. HR manages the University's redeployment register and the member of staff may be added to this for a defined period on grounds of disability.
  • Ill-health retirement
    If it is concluded that the member of staff is not able to continue working they may consider applying to the relevant pension scheme, if they are a member, for retirement on the grounds of ill-health. This process will involve HR and Occupational Health. Refer to point 22 of the guidance section of the Managing ill-health and sickness absence policy.
  • Ill-health procedure
    There may be occasions where despite making reasonable adjustments the member of staff is no longer able to continue working at the University. In these circumstances, the Managing Ill-Health procedure will be followed which may culminate in ill health dismissal.

Meeting costs

In many cases the costs associated with providing appropriate technology or equipment are relatively small and can be met through the departmental budgets. In some instances Access to Work will assist with a proportion of the costs. Where costs are likely to be significant, for example in the provision of highly sophisticated equipment or changes to physical estate, the line manager should discuss costs with the Management Accountant. Only in cases where members of staff have a disability as defined by the Equality Act 2010 can their department apply for central funding.

Roles and responsibilities

The line manager, HR, Occupational health, Disability Services and the disabled person will work in partnership to achieve the most appropriate outcome for him/her

The member of staff

  • Make their line manager aware of a disability, which is having an impact upon their work
  • Work with their line manager, HR Adviser, Occupational Health and other agencies in finding the most constructive option
  • Apply to Access to Work for financial assistance with the costs of equipment or additional support where this is required

Line manager

  • Handle the disclosed personal information sensitively and with discretion
  • Create opportunities for staff to declare a disability and encourage them to do so
  • Receive concerns from staff in the event they feel they are not being treated equitably and discuss with HR
  • Consult with HR to decide what adjustments can reasonably be made in the specific context in which the member of staff is working. This should be continued on an ongoing basis so that adjustments continue to be effective.
  • Ensure that the appropriate adjustments are put in place for staff with a disability

Head of Department or Section

  • Handle the disclosed personal information sensitively and with discretion
  • Consider all reasonably practicable options to enable the member of staff to continue in their role, including making reasonable adjustments to it
  • Keep the HR Adviser informed
  • Involve Occupational Health and/or Disability Services as appropriate

HR Adviser

  • Facilitate dialogue between the line manager and the member of disabled staff, if required
  • Advise the line manager about the legal obligations as an employer
  • Advise the line manager about sources of specialist advice at the University: Occupational Health, Disability Services
  • Advise the line manager about the process of agreeing changes to the member of staff's role as a reasonable adjustment
  • Advise the member of staff and their line manager about the redeployment procedures, if appropriate
  • Facilitate exploration of ill-health retirement options, if requested to do so

Occupational Health

  • Accept management and self-referrals of members of staff
  • Undertake an assessment of the health of the individual and its impact upon their role and any impact of the role upon their health. This may involve seeking information from the medical advisers of the member of staff and may require onward referral to an Occupational Health Physician
  • Discuss with the member of staff* the content of the report to be forwarded to their line manager, including adjustments if appropriate
  • Inform members of staff about the Access to Work scheme and obtain specialist advice from Disability Services or other specialist services in those cases where support is likely to be required

* If the member of staff does not agree with the content of the report they may add an appendix setting out why they disagree.

Disability Services

  • Provide specialist advise to members of staff and line managers about possible aids and adaptations
  • Provide screening for dyslexia and arrange for full psychological assessments. Monitor the needs of staff with more complex disabilities for whom equipment or assistance has been provided.

Health and Safety

  • Advise the line manager and HR Adviser where health and safety concerns are identified, arising from the disability. Assist in risk assessments when required.

Director of Estates and Campus Services

  • The Director of Estates and Campus Services, has responsibility for overseeing the budgeting and implementation of any adaptations and/or adjustments to the University's physical estate resulting from an agreed assessment of the needs of a member of disabled staff or successful applicant with a disability.

Access to Work

Access to Work's (AtW) own processes require the employee to make the application to AtW.

Employees to follow the steps below to make a claim for Access to Work:

  • Contact Access to Work with advice from Disability Services
  • Print the Access to Work eligibility letter and take it to your employer or to a job interview
  • When an adviser contacts you and your employer, tell them about the help and support you need

Document control

  • Last reviewed: 29 February 2016