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Reasonable accommodation

A disabled member of your staff has a right to the same opportunities as staff without disabilities.

If a person with a disability, including a work-related injury, applies for a job and they are the best person for the job, you are obliged to provide special assistance or equipment to help them do the work.

This is known as reasonable accommodation.

If you fail to do this and it is found to be unreasonable, you could be unlawfully discriminating.

Here are some ways you can reasonably accommodate people with disabilities:

  • Make your workplace accessible to a wheelchair by putting in a ramp, rearranging office furniture, providing an accessible toilet, adjusting the height of work surfaces.
  • Replace fluorescent lighting for a person with epilepsy, who may react to flickering or strobing.
  • Provide a chair for a person who is unable to stand for long periods.
  • Provide a large computer screen or screen reader and large print signs for a person who is visually impaired.
  • Provide a sign language interpreter for a deaf person, or a medical assessor who is familiar with a person's particular disability during a job interview.

If a worker is unable to perform the core duties, an employer is not expected to keep a position open indefinitely or make adjustments that cause unjustifiable hardship to the employer.  For example, a small business would not have to alter a work vehicle for a disabled worker if the cost was too high.

You are not expected to hire someone who is unable to:

  • perform the work required without endangering themselves or others
  • respond adequately to any likely emergency at work.

It is up to you to prove there is a work health and safety risk that you can't reasonably accommodate.

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