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The Royal College of Psychiatrists Improving the lives of people with mental illness

 

Developing and putting in place ‘reasonable adjustments’


GPs are trusted by patients and employers.  They can help to make sure that the right changes are made to working conditions to enable an employee to continue work and to reduce the amount of time off due to sickness.

The Equality Act 2010 replaced the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 and came into force in October 2010.  It means that employers and service providers have to make 'reasonable adjustments' to ensure that a person with a disability is not substantially disadvantaged compared with a non-disabled person.

 

These ‘reasonable adjustments’ can support people with mental health problems to stay productive at work.  They are changes that are fairly easy and inexpensive to put in place. It is also worth remembering that many people without a disability or a mental health problem also need to make changes to their work patterns and conditions. They have caring responsibilities, long-term or fluctuating health problems, or may need to time off for medical appointments.

Some mental health conditions come and go, and so it may be better to agree adjustments when they are needed, rather than making changes that apply all the time. 

Some people find it useful to prepare a Wellness and Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) which can also be called an ‘Advance Statement’.

Some suggestions for 'reasonable adjustments' include:

  • Flexible conditions – flexible start times to avoid travelling during difficult times or in difficult conditions such as rush hour, part-time working, rest breaks, working from home
  • Higher levels of supervision and support – working with a mentor or buddy to help you to set priorities or identify and complete ‘bite size’ tasks
  • Changes to your role or reallocating some work tasks – to reduce stress and accommodate any limitations such as stepping back from a high pressured management or project management role
  • Physical changes to the work environment – changing the office lighting or partitioning the work space to help make it easier to stay focused on tasks.  Some people like a busy, noisy work environment, others find lack of contact with others is detrimental
  • Adaptive devices – such as electronic and graphic organisers which can be set to remind you of tasks or to take a break
  • Enabling time off  - either set times or more flexibility to attend therapeutic sessions, treatment, assessment and/or rehabilitation
  • Identify training needs and provide support to develop skills – this can be of the individual and their colleagues; e.g. specific job requirements and/or around skills enhancement such as communication skills or time management

Professionals can help build self-esteem and confidence and help to re-inforce the message that it may take time to find the right adjustments - and for these to make a difference. It is often wise to review the 'reasonable adjustment' agreement after an agreed time to see if any changes need to be made.

You should feel confident that your personal information will be kept confidential.  You can specify what you would like your work colleagues to be told as part of developing and agreeing the reasonable adjustments or the Wellness and Recovery Action Plan (WRAP).

 

Links to resources:


Rethink

This section of the website explains the term ‘reasonable adjustment’ and includes links to specific guides for employees and also line managers. 

The guide for employees includes examples of adjustments that Rethink has identified from its work based on experiences of people with a mental health condition. 

 

SHiFT

The Talking to your manager about stress and distress’ section includes issues to think about before approaching your manager.

Managing an ongoing illness whilst at work’ has examples of coping strategies and ensuring that you are more likely to spot when your condition is posing difficulties to your life and work. 

Examples of reasonable adjustments’ This part of the website is from the section aimed at employers, but it includes useful examples of changes to work and work patterns. 

Employers’ Forum on Disability

Employers' Forum on Disability is an employers' organisation focused on disability as it affects business. The forum includes employers from multinational corporations, Small and Medium sized Enterprises and the public sector.

This 'Tailored adjustment agreement' template is intended to be a living record of reasonable adjustments agreed between a disabled employee and their line manager.

The purpose of this agreement is to:

  • Ensure that both parties, the individual and the employer, have an accurate record of what has been agreed.
  • Minimise the need to re-negotiate reasonable adjustments every time the employee changes jobs, is re-located or assigned a new manager within the organisation.
  • Provide employees and their line managers with the basis for discussions about reasonable adjustments at future meetings.

This is a live document and should be reviewed regularly by both the employee and manager and amended as appropriate.

 

Realising ambitions: Better employment support for people with a mental health condition

Rachel Perkins, Paul Farmer and Paul Litchfield

Department for Work and Pensions, December 2009

This review was commissioned by the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions to look at mental health and employment and to identify how Government could help people with mental health conditions fulfil their employment ambitions.  Chapter 4 includes examples of ‘reasonable adjustments’ that have enabled people with a mental health condition to prosper at work. 

 

ACAS

This booklet ‘Flexible working and work-life balance’ includes examples of flexible working such as term time working, job shares and changes to shift and rota patterns.  It includes advice for employees on how to apply for flexible working.  The booklet includes examples of flexible working from situations such as returning to work after maternity leave which might be useful in discussions with employers who have limited experience or knowledge of mental ill-health. 

 

MIND

The Staying in employment’ booklet by Alison Cobb and Kaaren Cruse, includes sections on recognising signs of mental distress, making changes to your job, work environment or working practice.  It also includes information and advice on getting support for putting the adjustments you need in place. 

 

Work Life

The health conditions part of the website includes a link to an American publication called Working with MS’.  This includes tips and techniques for developing adjustments or accommodations or different job duties.  There is a five point plan to help identify the tasks and activities you can do and those which you may experience difficulties with and how best to negotiate for the adjustments you need.

 

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The effect of medication on carrying out tasks at work

 

 

Please note that we are unable to offer advice on individual cases. Please see our FAQ for advice on getting help.

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