Reasonable adjustments for work

The adjustments you need can be changed by agreement with your employer at any time as your needs change

The adjustments should take into account your full profile of needs whether autism-related or not. You must:

  1. Declare that you have a disability
  2. Ask for reasonable adjustments to be made.

Discuss with your manager what reasonable adjustments you need and have the outcome of the meeting recorded in writing.

The University of Portsmouth Autism Centre for Research on Employment (ACRE) has developed an assessment tool for autistic people with mild or no learning disabilities. The Cognitive Profile element can help you understand your strengths and weaknesses in social and communication skills; flexibility and planning; and sensory sensitivities. It includes a tailored support plan including recommended workplace adjustments.

You may want help from a job coach to interpret the results, which can be quite detailed.

Whether you complete an assessment or not, it can be helpful to review possible reasonable adjustments to help you perform in your job. These might include:

  • Doing things another way such as:
    • Having your own desk instead of hot-desking
    • Allowing you to leave the building in advance of a scheduled fire alarm (provided you have practiced the process enough to be safe in the event of an emergency)
    • Enforcing a policy that avoids people eating noisy or strong-smelling food near your workstation
    • Allowing the use of noise cancelling headphones at work
    • Agreeing changes to the uniform or dress-code to take into account sensory sensitivities
    • Changing working hours to avoid rush hour travel times (such as starting and leaving earlier or later)
    • Working from home part or all of the time
    • Allowing employees whose condition causes them to suffer from ill-health to make a phased return to work, including flexible hours or part-time working
    • Allowing you to work in or use a conference or meeting room if you need a quiet environment
    • Modifying sickness absence triggers (these are the number of days’ absence when managers consider warnings, and possible dismissal, unless attendance at work improves)
    • Modifying performance targets
    • Putting communications in writing
    • Having a scheduled daily meeting or conversation with your manager, often with the same format or agenda, to agree your plans for the day
    • Being given agreed periods of notice regarding changes to your schedule, calendar or workload
  • Making physical changes to the workplace such as:
    • Swapping from fluorescent lights to a desk lamp
    • Providing a desk in a small office, or quiet area rather than in a noisy open-plan office. Sometimes simply having a desk in the corner, where people can’t walk by on all sides can be an enormous help
    • Installing horizontal roller blinds to prevent glare
    • Allowing you to personalise your desk or work space – for example use of colours or comforting colours can sometimes help
  • Offering you specific training opportunities, recreation and refreshment facilities

Think about the adjustments which will suit your specific needs – which will make you more comfortable and ensure you do the best job possible

Further guidance on reasonable adjustments is available from the government and from the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service. Most reasonable adjustments are either free to make or inexpensive to implement. If needed, there may be financial support to make reasonable adjustments through the Access to Work scheme.