Reasonable adjustments guidelines

The University of Surrey is committed to supporting our applicants, and new and existing members of staff.


These guidelines set out:

  • What a reasonable adjustment is
  • How to make a reasonable adjustment
  • Our duties and responsibilities
  • What considerations we take into account when we review a request.

As a University, we want to be a caring employer and fulfil our duty of care to everyone who works, studies at or visits us. The University of Surrey also takes reasonable steps to ensure we are compliant with equality and diversity legislation and regulations.

This information gives some examples of our processes. It is not a comprehensive guide to every situation, but we hope it will help you understand our general approach. You can find out on this page:

  • Our commitment to improving accessibility for everybody
  • Some of the basic principles of our legal duty to provide reasonable adjustments
  • The factors that we will consider in dealing with requests for reasonable adjustments.

What is a reasonable adjustment?

A reasonable adjustment involves making a change to the way that we usually do things to ensure that we are fair to all of our staff. This may involve:

  • A special chair because of back problems
  • A special keyboard because of arthritis
  • A ramp for a wheelchair user
  • Changing working hours or patterns of work
  • A phased return after sickness absence
  • A designated car park space
  • Modifying sickness absence triggers - these are the number of days' absence when managers consider warning, and possible dismissal, unless attendance at work improves
  • Modifying performance targets.

We will not make assumptions about whether you require any adjustments or about what those adjustments should be. We will discuss the requirements with you and seek to reach agreement on what may be reasonable in the circumstances.

Our legal duties in relation to disabled staff

The Equality Act 2010 requires us to provide reasonable adjustments for disabled staff, defined by the Act as those who have a physical or mental impairment, which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on that person's ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.

This will, in some circumstances, mean that disabled people receive more favourable treatment than non-disabled people, which is lawful in the context of disability.

Requesting reasonable adjustments

To request a reasonable adjustment, please see the step-by-step process. We may ask other people to help us in the process, including:

  • Our occupational health provider
  • Your line manager

Making reasonable adjustments

The University must consider making reasonable adjustments if you disclose a disability, whether you already work for the University or whether you are applying for a job here.

We will consider the following the three criteria when assessing what reasonable adjustments are:

  • Do we need to change how we do things?
  • Do we need to change the workplace physically?
  • Do we need to provide extra equipment or get someone to assist the staff member in some way?

Please note that the University is not required to change the basic nature of the job, but where there is a reasonable adjustment cost, we are responsible for paying. We may talk to external organisations who are able to help with the cost and will ask your consent before we do. If you do not consent, it may not be possible to accommodate the reasonable adjustment for you in full.

The University has a legal duty to make reasonable adjustments. However, sometimes a change will be unreasonable and we can lawfully decide not to make that change. We use the following criteria to decide whether a change is unreasonable:

  • Is the change practical to make?
  • Do we have the resources to pay for the adjustment?
  • Will the change be effective in overcoming or reducing the disadvantage in the workplace?
  • Will the adjustment have an impact on the health and safety of others?

Making reasonable adjustments for job applicants

When you apply for a job at the University, we will ask you whether you need any reasonable adjustments for any part of the recruitment process. The University must make reasonable adjustments to the recruitment process if:

  • You have declared a disability in the application
  • We become aware of a disability
  • You ask for reasonable adjustments.

If we have made reasonable adjustments during the recruitment process, we will ask you if these are suitable. This may help us to decide whether you would be able to carry out the essential functions of the role with these adjustments in place.

How does the University respond to requests for reasonable adjustments?

Usually, we will be able to agree and deliver the required reasonable adjustments with a minimum of delay. However, we may need more time in some cases to consider in more detail how best to overcome the you may experience. For example, where the adjustment requested may be difficult to provide or where it may interfere with our statutory or regulatory obligations.

How does the University decide what is "reasonable"?

The Equality Act does not define what is "reasonable" but guidance from the Equality and Human Rights Commission suggests that the most relevant factors are:

Will the adjustment help in overcoming the difficulty that the disabled person may have? The adjustment should be designed to fully address the disadvantage it is meant to overcome—for example providing a meeting room which is accessible by wheelchair may not properly overcome the barriers faced by the wheelchair user if there are no disabled toilet facilities also available.

How practical is it to provide the adjustment? What are the resource implications of making the adjustment? How much will it cost and is this proportionate to the adjustment being requested.

Would the adjustment cause disruption to others? For example, it would not usually be reasonable for a head of department to meet with a staff member every day. The amount of extra time provided must therefore be "reasonable" in all the circumstances.


The University will record and monitor the reasonable adjustments that have been requested and made. This will allow us to review the services we provide and help us identify whether there are any wider steps that we can take to improve our services.