Published 10 November 2021
Adjusting reasonable adjustments at work
HR expert Rebecca Armstrong explains how to ask for further adjustments if your needs change
When you have multiple sclerosis (MS) you may find that you need to ask your employer to make a reasonable adjustment to enable you to access work. Adjustments can be short-term changes to support you to get through a specific period, such as phased return to work or a permanent change which therefore becomes contractual.
As we know, MS changes with time, either through progression or because of relapses. This means that the adjustments we need may also change. In my experience many people with MS can find it hard to ask for changes or further adjustments once an agreement is in place which can mean that they ‘make do’. It is important to know that asking for, and receiving an adjustment is not limited, you can ask for as many as you need and as frequently as is required.
Today, I am sharing my top tips around how to approach asking for a variation of adjustments.
- MS is a complex condition (you don’t need me to tell you that) which means that it can be hard for someone who doesn’t have MS to fully understand what it is like. It is useful when you are talking to your company to share some information on the condition. In this context the key is to share that over time you may need different things and there could be periods where things are worse and then better again.
- This allows you to have a conversation about making adjustments flexible, having agreements about how you will be supported when you have bad days as well as good days. So, for example, you may have an adjustment that says you can make a decision to work from home on the morning when you wake up (rather than giving notice of it for example) so that if you are having a bad day, you can still access work.
- You may want to ask for regular reviews, perhaps as part of 1-2-1 discussions. This creates an opportunity to evaluate how an adjustment is working and to make changes as required.
- Think about what is working and what isn’t so you can be clear about what you are asking for. It’s often useful to think about the impact on work an adjustment might have so you can have this discussion with your manager.
- You may want to ask to be referred to Occupational Health, this can be a good way to review adjustments and to get support for changes you might want to request.
- Set up a time to discuss your needs, it is useful to also put your request in writing so that you have a clear follow up.
Remember that reasonable adjustments are a right within the equality act, although they can be refused there does have to be a good case for this and you can challenge the decision through the grievance processes.