Disabled or not, employers will always want to support an employee with difficulties.

Simple, low-cost adjustments often make a considerable difference to an employee’s comfort and thus to their attendance and productivity.

Where workplace adjustments are truly needed I consider what is most practical, evidenced and cost-effective – be it a mouse, a keyboard, specialist seating, support for hearing or sight, type of duties or volume of work.

Sometimes, however adjustments may be expected but are not medically supportable, e.g. a phased return after a period of illness: if the employee is unfit for their full hours now but will be by the end of the phasing in period then a phased return should be recommended, otherwise not.

Employers are often concerned about falling foul of disability legislation.

Over the years, the disability provision of the Equality Act, 2010 has become ever more diluted in case law and the requirement for workplace adjustments ever more onerous.

The judiciary are clear that doctors cannot decide what is and is not considered to be a disability under the Act. By closely following UK and EU case law, however OH Physicians are in a very good position to advise employers on what is likely to constitute an EA disability and what adjustments are needed – rather than simply nice to have.

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