This policy sets out the Council’s legal obligation to consider adjustments and to make adjustments where reasonable under the Act.
Scope of this Policy
We are committed to ensuring that reasonable adjustments are put in place for customers who have a disability. This is to ensure that they receive the same services, as far as this is possible, as someone without a disability. The Equality Act 2010 calls this the duty to make reasonable adjustments.
This policy sets out our obligations in relation to making reasonable adjustments under the Equality Act 2010. It also highlights our commitment to eliminating unfair discrimination, advancing equality of opportunity, fostering good relations and delivering services that meet the needs of our diverse community in everything that we do.
This policy does not cover the legal responsibilities for how we monitor our workforce or meet our duties as an employer.
Definition of disability under the Equality Act 2010
You are disabled under the Equality Act 2010 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. (Definition of disability under the Equality Act 2010, [Accessed on 11.03.2021])
What ‘substantial’ and ‘long-term’ mean
- ‘substantial’ is more than minor or trivial, e.g. it takes much longer than it usually would to complete a daily task like getting dressed
- ‘long-term’ means 12 months or more, e.g. a breathing condition that develops
as a result of a lung infection
- there are special rules about recurring or fluctuating conditions, e.g. arthritis
A progressive condition is one that gets worse over time. People with progressive
conditions can be classed as disabled.
What isn’t counted as a disability?
There is guidance available on the Gov.UK website on conditions that aren’t covered
by the disability definition. However, you automatically meet the disability definition
under the Equality Act 2010 from the day you’re diagnosed with HIV infection, cancer or multiple sclerosis.
- The aims of this policy are to:
define our legal obligation to consider adjustments and to make adjustments
- provide our staff with information so that they can ensure that working
practices eliminate unfair discrimination and recognise the ways in which we
can make it easier for customers with a disability to access our services
Reasonable adjustments for customers
The Equality Act says there is a duty to make reasonable adjustments if you are
placed at a substantial disadvantage because of your disability compared with nondisabled people or people who don’t share your disability. Substantial disadvantage is defined in the Equality Act 2010 section 212(1) as ‘more than minor or trivial’.
Under Section 20 of the Equality Act 2010, the legal duty to make reasonable
adjustments arises in the following three circumstances:
- Where there is a provision, criterion or practice which puts a disabled person
at a substantial disadvantage in relation to a relevant matter in comparison
with persons who are not disabled
- Where a physical feature puts a disabled person at a substantial disadvantage
in comparison with persons who are not disabled
- Where a disabled person would, but for the provision of an auxiliary aid, be
put at a substantial disadvantage in comparison with persons who are not
Where the first or third requirement relates to the provision of information, the steps taken should include providing the information in an accessible format.
In relation to the second requirement, avoiding a substantial disadvantage includes a
- (a) removing the physical feature in question,
- (b) altering it, or
- (c) providing a reasonable means of avoiding it
therefore making an adjustment in relation to the second requirement, means making a physical change to premises, or change to work practices to avoid or correct the disadvantage.
The Equality Act states that the customer should never be asked to pay for the
adjustments. If an organisation does not co-operate with the duty to make reasonable
adjustments, under the Equality Act, this could constitute unlawful discrimination and result in a discrimination claim under the Equality Act.
Requesting reasonable adjustments
Customers can request that we make reasonable adjustments in the following ways:
- in person
- in writing for example by email, by post, text
- by telephone
Types of reasonable adjustment that we can offer
There is no prescribed list of reasonable adjustments in the Equality Act; the
adjustment will depend on the individual’s needs. We will discuss the requirements
with the person concerned and seek to reach agreement on what may be reasonable
under the circumstances.
There are three different things we may have to do make it easier for someone with
a disability to access our services.
- Change the way things are done – We may have a certain way of doing things which makes it more difficult for the disabled person. This could be a formal or informal policy, a rule or a practice. It could also be a one-off decision. The Equality Act calls this a provision, criterion or practice. We will make changes to these things if they are a barrier, unless it is unreasonable to do so.
- Change a physical feature – Sometimes a physical feature of a building or other premises may make it more difficult to access or use.
The type of adjustments we will make include, removing, changing or providing a way of avoiding the physical feature, unless it is unreasonable to do so. This may include providing ramps and stairway lifts, making doorways wider, installing automatic doors and providing more lighting and clearer signs.
- Provide extra aids or services – Sometimes particular aids, equipment or additional services may be needed. The Equality Act calls this auxiliary aids and services. Some examples of auxiliary aids and services which we will provide to help are a portable induction loop for people with hearing aids, British Sign Language interpreters, unless it is unreasonable to do so. Some examples of the adjustments that we can make include:
- provision of information in alternative formats (e.g. large print, Braille, coloured paper, audio etc.)
- extension of time limits (where it is lawful to do so) or longer time to answer
the door, phone etc.
- use of telephone in preference to hard copy letters or vice versa
- use of plain English or Easy Read service
- communication through a representative or intermediary
- rest or comfort breaks in meetings
- translator service
- provision of auxiliary aids
- providing a sign language interpreter, for example in person, including via
online video conferencing
- arranging home visits for those who have particular mobility difficulties
Our response to requests for reasonable adjustments
In the majority of cases we will be able to agree and deliver the required reasonable
adjustment with a minimum of delay. In some cases, we may need to consider in
more detail how best to overcome the barrier or seek advice from external specialist
organisations that can assist with signposting and other forms of support.
How do we decide what is reasonable?
Adjustments only have to be made if it is reasonable to do so. The Equality Act does
not define what is ‘reasonable’, but guidance from the Equality and Human Rights
Commission suggest that the most relevant factors are:
- the effectiveness of the adjustment(s) in preventing or reducing the
disadvantage for the disabled person
- the practicality of us making the adjustments and any potential disruption
caused to service delivery.
- the availability of resources including size and external assistance
- the cost and availability of financial support
The adjustment should be designed to fully address the disadvantage it is meant to overcome. It may be necessary to treat a disabled person more favourably than a nondisabled person or to make several adjustments to deal with the disadvantage, but each change made must contribute towards this. If it does not have any impact then there is no point.
We will consider whether an adjustment is practical. The easier an adjustment is and the less it costs the more likely it is to be reasonable, and just because something is difficult it doesn’t mean it is unreasonable. However, if the adjustment would be impractical this can mean that it is unreasonable. For example, if there are legislative deadlines we have to meet, if we have to cease other work that will have an impact on service delivery to other customers or if the adjustment would increase the risk of health and safety of anybody. In changing policies, criteria or practices, this is something that will need to be balanced against other and based on a proper risk assessment.
Resources, Cost and Financial Support
Resources must be looked at across the whole organisation, not just the service where the adjustment has been requested. Resources are another factor in determining whether a request is reasonable and what is reasonable in one situation may be different from what is reasonable in another. This is not just about the cost, it may involve other factors for example recruiting additional staff with specific skills. If advice or financial support is available from another organisations then this is more likely to make the adjustment reasonable. In practice many reasonable adjustments will involve little or no cost or additional resourcing requirements and are relatively easy to implement.
Promoting Reasonable Adjustment
We are committed to ensuring continuous improvement of the accessibility of our
services and to making people aware the in which we do by:
- including an accessibility text box on our published documents indicating that
we can provide the document in an alternative format on request
- publishing this Reasonable Adjustments Policy on our website
- working with key representatives groups including the Wealden Disability
Involvement Group (WDIG) and Internal Equalities Group and others to raise
awareness of this policy and identify barriers to accessing our service
- asking customers whether a reasonable adjustment might be required in our
interaction with them by phone, writing or in person
- ensuring each Council service area has a recognised equalities lead
In addition, we are exploring how we can promote this when we send out emails and text for example through a standardised footer.
We are committed to ensuring continuous improvement and improving the
accessibility of our services and some ways in which we do this:
- launch of new software on the website to ensure it is accessible to all users
- undertaking Equality Impact Assessments when reviewing or introducing any
new policies, procedures or working practice. To identify any potential
equalities impacts and how they can be mitigated
- learning from customer feedback including complaints and taking action to
address any issues raised
Although not covered by the policy, it is worth noting that in addition to making reasonable adjustments for disabled people, the Equality Act 2010 provides a legislative framework to protect the rights of individuals and to advance equality of opportunity for all. This means that some individuals with a protected characteristic may be treated differently in order to achieve equality.
The Equality Duty, which came into force in 2011, requires public bodies to consider how their activities affect people who share different protected characteristics and requires them to consider how the decisions that they make, and the services they deliver, affect people who share these different protected characteristics. It requires us to understand the needs of our customers and to be able to demonstrate equality in the design of policies and the delivery of services.
The protected characteristics covered by the Equality Duty are;
- gender re-assignment
- marriage and civil partnership
- pregnancy and maternity
- religion or belief
- sexual orientation
We also recognises that the following can be significant barriers to equality of
- caring responsibilities
- employment status
- geographical area
In designing new services, making changes to services, ensuring access to our services, implementing new policies and procedures we will also consider the impact on all groups with a protected characteristic (including Wealden’s own additional groups) and take action to eliminate or minimise any disadvantage that they might have.
We are committed to providing good customer service, dealing with everyone in a way that is fair, consistent and free from discrimination. If someone is dissatisfied
with the arrangements we have made for providing reasonable adjustments, they
have a right to make a complaint under our Complaints Policy. We are committed to
ensuring continuous improvement and improving the accessibility of our services by
learning from complaints and taking action to address any issues raised.
Performance in relation to the implementation of this policy will be monitored
- individual departments case files/customer records
- reviewing completed Equality Impact Assessments and publishing them online
- recording and reviewing complaints with regards to equalities and feeding back to the Senior Leadership Team on what has changed as a result
Led by the Head of Business Services and supported by the Equalities Officer the Internal Equalities Group will monitor performance of this policy and ensure continuous improvement across the Council. Performance will be fed back to individual services through their equalities lead and discussed at Senior Leadership level to ensure we learn from and are committed to service improvements.
We are committed to ensuring that individuals’ privacy is protected and will only collect, use and store their personal data in line with the General Data Protection Regulation 2016 and the Data Protection Act 2018. If we need to use their personal data for an unrelated purpose, we will notify them and we will explain the legal basis which allows us to do so. We may need to process personal data without their knowledge or consent, where this is required or permitted by law. Under the legislation individual customers also have a number of rights including the right to access their personal data.
The policy will be reviewed annually and updated every 5 years or sooner if required by best practice and/or legislation or as a result of changes to our working practices.