Reasonable adjustments are changes to a job role or workplace that help someone with a mental health condition to keep working, or return to the workplace if they've taken time off.    

Under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992, employers must make reasonable adjustments to support people with a disability (including a mental health condition) provided the person is able to fulfil the core requirements of the job.


Reasonable adjustments apply at every stage of employment:

  • recruitment, selection and appointment
  • existing work role
  • career development
  • training
  • promotion and transfers.

Adjustments can be temporary or permanent, and are usually free or inexpensive. Employers may also make adjustments for workers who are unable to meet the inherent requirements of the job. This isn't required by law, but often makes good business sense for employers wanting to retain skilled, experienced people.

Employers must make reasonable adjustments to support someone with a disability

Identifying positive adjustments

It’s important to avoid making assumptions about what someone with depression or anxiety will find challenging in the workplace. Focus your discussions on helping the employee identify their own stressors and potential difficulties, then working through solutions together. It’s also important to talk about their strengths and what they enjoy about their job.

Adjustments will need to be tailored to the individual, but some common ideas include:

Flexible working hours and location

  • Change working hours to allow for the effects of medication.
  • Work part time or split shifts.
  • Take more frequent breaks.
  • Support a graduated return to work if the employee is on sick leave.
  • Make shift or work location changes.
  • Make environmental adjustments to avoid excessive light or noise – for example, move desks.

Workload and stress

  • Reduce workload or modify tasks.
  • Vary tasks, or allow a self-paced workload.
  • If an employee has been off work, make sure they don’t return to a back-log of work or emails.
  • Identify and modify tasks that the employee may initially find stressful or overwhelming. For example, people management, public speaking or direct customer contact.
  • Establish goals, prompts, reminders and checklists to assist the employee with time-management and to stay on top of their workload.
  • Modify performance-related pay arrangements.
  • Reallocate work within the team while capitalising on each person's strengths.

Training and support

  • Provide access to professional mentoring, coaching or on-the-job peer support.
  • Provide extra training, mentoring, and support.
  • Make changes to supervision. Modify the way instructions and feedback are given.
  • Have brief weekly meetings to discuss issues as they arise.
  • Allow extra time to learn tasks. Arrange for the employee to attend tailored training sessions.

Considering adjustments – points for employers

When you’re identifying potential adjustments, think about the practicalities and how you’ll implement them. If you need input or support from other team members, discuss with the employee how you'll communicate this.


Managers should think about:

  • the core requirements of the role – is there anything that can’t be altered?
  • are there any associated financial costs?
  • does the workplace have adequate resources to accommodate the adjustment(s)?
  • are any disruptions likely, either to other employees or work flow?
  • what is the time frame for introducing any adjustments?

Which tasks can be

swapped 

or passed to another employee?