Event Wrap – All you need to know about workplace adjustments

Woman sitting at desk, with a screen in front of her and wearing earphones

Image: Woman sitting at desk, with a screen in front of her and wearing earphones

Offering workplace adjustments is a key element of inclusive organisations, and an area of increasing interest for employers wanting to ensure an accessible workplace for all employees. Over 180 employers nationwide recently joined JobAccess General Manager Daniel Valiente-Riedl for a webinar focused on this important topic: ‘Workplace adjustments: What are they, how to make them, and support you can count on.’

The importance of reasonable adjustments

Workplace adjustments are any changes – either administrative, environmental or procedural – that enable people with disability to have equitable employment opportunity, and work effectively and comfortably.

Under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (DDA), if an employer is aware of an employee’s disability, they must provide what is regarded 'reasonable adjustment' to accommodate the needs of the employee (unless that adjustment would result in unjustifiable hardship).

Separate to the legislative requirements, employers may be surprised to learn there are many benefits to be gained from making such adjustments.

“Ensuring accessible workplaces opens up your business not only to a larger talent pool but also attracts customers with disability. Making workplace adjustments can increase work performance and retention of employees with disability as well as increase access to buildings and services, potentially broadening your customer base to include people with disability.”

“It’s also important to understand that not all people with disability require workplace adjustments. Many a time employers assume that it will be expensive to make adjustments to their offices or workspaces. The fact is that the majority of workplace adjustments are low cost and some changes, such as providing flexible working hours, involve no cost at all and benefit all employees, not just those living with disability,” said Daniel.

There are many different types of workplace adjustments

The webinar also explored the wide range of adjustments that can be made, including in the physical work environment, during the recruitment process, in job design, and induction, training and development. Just some of the many common examples include assistive technology, providing interview materials in accessible formats, job sharing, workplace mentor and buddy systems, and disability awareness training for managers and staff.

If employers want to learn more about workplace adjustments, a useful starting point is the Disability and adjustment tool on the JobAccess website. It provides a detailed list of common types of disability, symptoms and possible workplace adjustments and solutions.

Expert support just a phone call away

During the webinar, a poll of attendees revealed varying levels of confidence in offering workplace adjustments for a job applicant or employee with disability.

“At JobAccess, one of our favourite sayings is that employers don’t need to go it alone when it comes to disability employment. We are here to support them,” said Daniel.

JobAccess operates a national call service delivered by a team of front-line professionals who provide free, confidential and expert advice on workplace adjustments and modifications.

They also work with a national panel of assessors to conduct free workplace assessments for workplace modifications and support. Such modifications may be eligible for reimbursement through the Australian Government’s Employment Assistance Fund (EAF).

Advice and funding to make it happen

The EAF is available to people with disability who are about to start a job or who are currently working and could help to buy work-related modifications and services. These include:

  • Adjustments/special equipment for the physical workplace
  • Modifications to work vehicles
  • Information and communication devices
  • Auslan interpreting
  • Specialist services for employees with specific learning disorders and mental health conditions
  • Disability awareness/deafness awareness/mental health first aid training.

“Applications can be made by employees, service providers or employers, either online or over the phone with a JobAccess Adviser. Detailed guidelines, including eligibility criteria are available online on the JobAccess website.”

“But remember, we are here to help – your JobAccess Adviser will manage the process and answer any enquiries you may have,” said Daniel.

The webinar concluded with insightful questions from attendees, highlighting an encouraging commitment from organisations to look at workplace adjustments to remove barriers to disability employment.

Want to attend our next event? Join the JobAccess mailing list to receive e-newsletters and invitations to employer events designed to help employers begin or further their efforts in employing people with disability.

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