Last reviewed: November 2023
Also in this guidance
- Adjustments Planner guidance: What the Planner is, who is disabled, and what adjustments are
- The law on discussing disability before a job has been offered: For employers and disabled students
- Adjustments Planner: Guidance for students with disabilities and long-term conditions
The Adjustment Planner has been designed to help students have conversations with employees about their disability when leaving college or university and moving into employment. However, there are some elements of both law and practice that employers and recruitment teams must be aware of when receiving this Planner from a candidate or new employee.
Receiving the Planner from a student or new employee before job offer
The Adjustments Planner encourages disabled students to have conversations with employers about the support they need when moving from education to employment. Employers must be careful though, because the Equality Act 2010 says employers must not ask candidates disability or health related questions before they have offered the person a job. Read this section for both employers and students about when the employers can and cannot ask a candidate about a disability.
Receiving the Planner from a candidate or new employee after job offer
The Adjustment Planner is long and wordy, and it may not reflect the processes you have internally. You may already use a “Disability Passport”, an “Adjustments Passport”, or a “Workplace Support Plan” which are all essentially the same thing as this Planner – they help employees and managers plan for good conversations about a disability and adjustments.
Candidates, students, and new employees may bring their Adjustments Planner with them to a meeting or email it to you. If this happens, you should:
- Thank them for sharing it with you.
- After they have been offered a job, arrange a call or meeting with them to discuss the content of the Planner. Make sure you have plenty of time and that the time, date and location is comfortable for everyone involved.
- Explain that, although this Planner is helpful and it’s great that have spent time planning for this conversation, the organisation has their own form and process for agreeing and arranging adjustments. It is important that your own processes are completed because this allows for consistency which, in turn, ensures everyone gets supported and everything is tracked and recorded in the right way.
- Ensure the Planner you have been sent is stored and/or deleted in the most appropriate way – and tell the employee that you have done this. This may include deleting it from your emails and deleted folder, shredding a physical copy you have been given, or advising the employee that you have saved it to their employee file which HR (or equivalent) has access to, but that it is otherwise confidential.
Ultimately though, whether or not the Adjustments Planner is used, the most important thing to ensure is an effective and supportive conversation between individuals and the employer. This will help to build trust between the employee and the manager and also help the employee feel as though they can discuss anything they want to at any time during their employment with you. Good communication between employees and managers is pivotal for how disabled employees feel at work.
Be aware that disabled students and employees often have a lot of disability related ‘admin’ to deal with – whether that’s requesting adjustments, managing their disability outside of their studying and working lives, or just in having completed the Adjustments Planner and potentially being asked to go through it all again with you in a meeting and/or in your organisation’s own document. Be sensitive to this. Employees may be new to the job or even employment entirely and they may need time to both learn the new job and navigate these conversations and the forms and documents that go with it all.
The key aim for good, disability inclusive employers is to make working life as easy and as comfortable as possible – for everyone, but particularly here, disabled employees. This means simplifying processes, ensuring that your internal comms and guidance does not imply that disabled employees are complicated to manage or talk to, and reducing the number of forms and admin you require disabled employees to do to get the support and adjustments they need.
What does the Planner ask students to consider?
The Planner asks disabled students and employees to consider how they work and what they may need related to the following work situations:
- Travel to work.
- Accessing education or work premises. This section is about considering the physical premises.
- Communication support in education and work.
- Specialist IT programmes.
- Specialist equipment and coping at work.
- Adaptations to equipment you already use.
- Support while they are at work.
This does not cover all types of the support that employees may need. We therefore encourage employers to ensure they describe the job, working environment, and work premises as much as possible so that employees can have informed discussions with you about what would help them.
These sections also make the document and conversations very lengthy, and they needn’t be. Talking to disabled people and working with disabled people is not complicated. Focussing on asking “What do you find difficult and what can I do to make it easier for you?” is often everything the employee needs to hear and asks everything you need to know in terms of understanding the difficulties (or ‘barriers’) someone is experiencing and then what you could do to remove them. This question does not mention disability or adjustments, but it essentially asks what barriers someone is experiencing and what adjustments would help.
Bringing adjustments from university to employment
Students and new employees may be used to working in a certain way with specific adjustments for many years during the university degree or even before that. Graduates often tell us that they did not know they might not be able to keep working in that same way when they go into work. Our research shows that 27 per cent of disabled graduates had adjustments at university that they could not transfer to their job.
It is also important that this Planner helps plan for and structure a helpful conversation. It is not a ‘list’ of adjustments that must be made. It is often the case that adjustments someone used at university will need to be changed or altered to suit the workplace. This is fine. The experience of the disabled employee will depend on how supportive you are when communicating this and finding alternative solutions, and how you pitch and navigate this conversation with them.
Employers therefore need to manage these conversations well. ‘Taking away’ an adjustment that someone is used to is difficult, and it is therefore helpful to have alternatives ready to discuss. This may cause anxiety for disabled students and employees, and you will also need to allow time for them to get used to using new adjustments. Allowing this ‘transition period’ is an adjustment in itself.
Applying for Access to Work
We understand that not every employer can or wants to use Access to Work. The Adjustments Planner encourages students and new employees to apply for it, though. If your organisation does not use Access to Work – either because you do not want to, cannot, or because you have a different way of providing adjustments – be proactive with new employees as soon as you have offered them a job. Let them know how they can consider, discuss, and request adjustments. If you receive notification of an Access to Work referral because someone has applied for it, you can explain to the individual that this is not the process and ensure they get timely help in the way your organisation does things instead.
- Disabled graduates’ experiences of moving from university to employment in the findings from The Great Big Workplace Adjustments Survey 2023.
- Recommendations for employers on improving workplace adjustments and inclusive workplace cultures for disabled employees from The Great Big Workplace Adjustments Survey 2023.
- Making adjustments for employees: a people managers’ guide (for Business Disability Forum members only)
- A recruitment toolkit for employers (some resources are for Business Disability Forum members only).
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