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Reasonable adjustments

Key points

  • If an employee with epilepsy (or other disability) is at a substantial disadvantage compared to other workers, there is a legal duty to make reasonable adjustments
  • Many reasonable adjustments involve little or no cost
  • If there are costs involved, funding might be available from Access to Work

What are reasonable adjustments

Equality law recognises disabled workers may need changes made at work and extra support in the workplace. This is the duty to make reasonable adjustments.

The Equality Act 2010 applies in England, Scotland and Wales. The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 applies in Northern Ireland.

The duty to make reasonable adjustments applies to disabled people who:

  • work for you, or
  • apply for a job with you, (see the recruitment section) or
  • tell you they are thinking of applying for a job with you

What is seen as reasonable will depend on a range of factors and will be different for every organisation. Factors to consider include:

  • The cost of making the adjustment
  • The effect it will have on business
  • The resources available and the practicalities
  • How effective the adjustment will be at removing the disadvantage to the employee

Many reasonable adjustments involve little or no cost. If there are costs involved, funding might be available from Access to Work. You cannot ask an employee to pay for a reasonable adjustment.

“The message I would like to get out to employers is that making adjustments, or at least the ones I’ve had, won’t cost you a thing and they can really make a difference.”


If you do not know, and could not reasonably be expected to know, that an employee has epilepsy, the duty to put reasonable adjustments in place does not apply.

Declining reasonable adjustments

Reasonable adjustments must be reasonable for the employer and the employee. Negotiation might be needed to reach an agreement about what is reasonable.

If a reasonable adjustment is declined there must be a clear and justified reason for doing so. Declining to make reasonable adjustments without a justified reason is a form of disability discrimination. An employee could take the matter to an employment tribunal, who would look at the complaint and decide if it involved unlawful discrimination.

Reasonable adjustments

Watch this short video of Cherry from the Epilepsy Action Helpline talking about the duty to make reasonable adjustments.

Examples of reasonable adjustments

Many people with epilepsy will not need any adjustments making.

Examples of things that could be put in place as a reasonable adjustment include:

  • Changes to working patterns (such as allowing different start and end times to the working day)
  • Adapting duties to keep everyone safe
  • Making alterations to the building
  • Providing information in a preferred format (such as written instructions rather than verbal)
  • Providing specific equipment (such as a chair with arms or a lone worker alarm)
  • Allowing extra time to do any assessments at interview
  • Considering epilepsy-related sickness separately from time off sick for other reasons

To find out if there are things that would support them, talk to your employee and complete a risk assessment. If your organisation has access to an occupational health service, you could contact them to ask for advice. For more about risk assessments, see the section about Safety.

If a reasonable adjustment is put in place, it might be for an agreed time period. When deciding what is reasonable, consider if the adjustment will be for a fixed period and when it will be reviewed.

Use the employee’s seizure action plan to make a record of any support that is agreed and put in place. For more, see the Supporting employees section.

More examples

Cherry talks about more examples of reasonable adjustments from her experience of talking to employers and employees on the Epilepsy Action Helpline.
My seizures are usually early in the morning. I agreed with my manager that I could start a bit later and have a shorter lunch break.
I work alone a lot, at different sites. My employer provided me with a fall alarm and a security company responds if it goes off, or they call an ambulance.
I work in retail. My employer changed some of my duties, so I don’t do things that they think are too risky. For example, I don’t lock up by myself at the end of the day, I always lock up with someone else.
I used to work night shifts, but I realised my seizures were triggered by tiredness. My boss helped me to change onto day shifts.
The adjustments that have been made for me at work are really simple things, like working from home more than other people because I can’t drive. I do have to do some travel for work. To make it less tiring I have a hotel booked so I can avoid a really early start or a late finish.

Resources to help

Use the reasonable adjustments checklist in a conversation with your employee about what would help them at work.

Access to Work

Access to Work is a government scheme that can provide grants to support disabled people in the workplace. An employee who does not have the help they need at work may be able to get help from Access to Work.

Examples of things that Access to Work could provide financial support for include:

  • Special equipment or software
  • Help towards the additional costs of taxi fares if your employee cannot use public transport to get to work
  • Disability awareness training for colleagues
  • The cost of moving equipment if your employee changes location or job
I had taxis to and from work paid for by Access to Work. I couldn’t get to work on time by bus because of the timings on the bus route. My employer was really understanding. We got help through the Access to Work scheme, and the cost of the taxis were covered that way.

Access to work will not pay for things that would normally be needed to do the job, whether the employee is disabled or not.

The scheme is available across the UK. The arrangements are different in Northern Ireland than in England, Scotland and Wales.

If eligible, employees with epilepsy could apply to the scheme. Employers may have to share the cost with Access to Work if the person has been working at the organisation for more than 6 weeks when they apply for Access to Work. The factsheet below explains more.

More info about Access to Work

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