Drive inclusion through adjustments and flexibility

Workplace adjustments that drive inclusion

Implementing adjustments is vital to disabling the barriers and building our inclusive and diverse workplace. 

Disabling the barriers for employees with an impairment is not, and never will be, a one size fits all endeavour. We must approach each opportunity with a holistic and individual view. 

Solutions to disabling the barriers can be found in many places and some will take more effort than others.  Often, they can be found by considering workplace flexibility, reasonable adjustment options and quite often a combination of both.

Workplace adjustments can:

  • increase work performance
  • increase retention of productive and committed staff
  • increase staff capabilities
  • improve access to buildings by employees and customers
  • become part of your everyday work practices.

Common types of workplace adjustments include adjustments to:

  • work methods, such as providing additional training or mentoring or adjusting tasks
  • work arrangements, including changes to working hours, for example to part-time hours, starting and finishing later or time off work for rehabilitation programs
  • workplace equipment or facilities, including provision of additional software or equipment, such as voice activated software or ergonomic equipment
  • work-related communications including the form or format in which information is available, such as providing documents to a person with low vision in text format rather than as scanned images.

Employment Assistance Fund

The Australian Government provides financial assistance for equipment and other workplace adjustments. JobAccess Advisers are available to help you identify suitable equipment and modifications. There are also free workplace assessments available through the Employment Assistance Fund to help employers and people with disability to make workplaces accessible.

Common adjustments and modifications that may be funded through the fund include:

  • items that improve physical accessibility such as ramps, toilets, parking, handrails on steps, clear markings or colour contrasts on steps, clearing aisles or moving filing cabinets
  • sound reduction devices or air cleaning systems
  • visual as well as audible fire alarms.

Workplace adjustments

Recruitment process

Reasonable adjustments in the recruitment process could include:

  • making all recruitment materials such as job descriptions, application forms and questionnaires available in accessible or alternative formats
  • scrapping medical tests or aptitude tests that are unrelated to essential job requirements
  • providing alternatives to written tests
  • providing alternatives to panel interviews such as scenario based assessments or work demonstrations
  • asking applicants throughout the process if they have accessibility requirements
  • ensuring that interviews or other assessments are held in an accessible venue and that the process caters to the access needs of all candidates, for example by arranging for relevant supports to be available such as Auslan interpreters, employment support workers or attendant carers.

Training and development

Reasonable adjustments in training and developing employees with impairment could include:

  • extending training time or probation for workers with cognitive impairment or learning disability
  • allowing external support workers from specialist employment or disability services onsite if necessary for orientation and learning assistance
  • introducing a workplace buddy or mentor system
  • arranging disability awareness training for co-workers, supervisors and managers
  • ensuring that on-boarding, induction and mandatory training is accessible for the employee
  • organising interpreters, readers or support people for induction or formal staff training occasions.

Job design

Reasonable adjustments in job design could include:

  • offering roles with flexibility in work hours e.g. starting later, allowing for longer or more frequent rest breaks
  • offering roles with job sharing, or part-time or home-based work
  • allocating some tasks to another employee if not essential to the role, and recognising skills and capabilities across the team
  • can work methods be modified e.g. by incorporating memory aids / prompts, more frequent supervision or feedback
  • understanding the methods of communication in your workplace and which work best for different team members.

Check out the Public Sector Flexible by Design for guidance and resources on building a more flexible workplace.