Last reviewed: November 2023
Business Disability Forum has created some guidance for students and employers to help organisations use a tool created by the Government called the Adjustments Planner (launched in November 2023).
What is the Adjustments Planner?
The Government’s Adjustments Planner is to help disabled learners and students plan conversations to have with employers about the adjustments they need in work. Learners and students may choose to complete the Planner themselves, or they may speak to their school, college, or university about it.
You can view and download an Adjustments Planner from the Government’s website here: Student Adjustments Planner – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
Using the Adjustments Planner is optional. It is a tool available for employers and students to use if they want to. There is no obligation to use it all. The focus for everyone should be on ensuring effective and supportive conversations with one another about making leaving education and entering work as easy and as comfortable as possible. This should happen whether or not the Planner is used.
About this guidance
This guidance has been written for Business Disability Forum’s members – employers, universities, and the disabled people who work and study in those organisations. It has been created to help them use the Adjustments Planner in the most effective way possible, so that everyone can benefit and feel comfortable supporting one another.
Everything we do at Business Disability Forum is informed by our members (the organisations we work with) and the disabled people who work and study in them. The content of this guidance has therefore been directed by employers, universities, and disabled employees and students. It has been written by Business Disability Forum’s Head of Policy and CEO, both of whom have a disability and long-term conditions themselves, and have experience of going to university and being in work with those disabilities. Our guidance includes the following sections:
- The law on discussing disability before a job has been offered: For employers and disabled students
- Adjustments Planner: Guidance for employers
- Adjustments Planner: Guidance for students with disabilities and long-term conditions
Who is ‘disabled’?
There is a legal definition of disability in the UK Equality Act 2010, but it is just that – a legal definition. Most people who have a disability or condition will not know if they are covered by the legal definition and many people with a disability do not live their lives at work or study needing to know. Legal definitions are for legal processes. How people choose to describe their disability or condition is up to them, and it may or may not include describing themselves as ‘disabled’. In fact, our research shows that just 47 per cent of employees with a disability or long-term condition would describe themselves as disabled, and 27 per cent said whether they describe themselves as disabled very much depends on the situation where they are asked.
Generally, if an employee, candidate, or student has a disability or long-term condition that impacts their life each day and how they do things, they are likely to need changes or “adjustments” to the way something such as applying for a job or carrying out a university degree is usually done.
Don’t get too focused on definition and medical terms. Instead focus on what is needed to enable an employee, candidate or student to do well and be their best in education, at an interview, or in the workplace.
Ultimately, good conversations – from both the disabled person’s and the employer’s perspective – should not focus on whether someone is ‘disabled’ or the details of their disability or condition. It should instead focus on what difficulties (sometime called ‘barriers’) the person with the disability or condition is experiencing and how the employer can help to remove the difficulty, or at least reduce it as much as possible.
We have used the term “disabled students”, “disabled candidates”, or “disabled employees” throughout this guide as ‘shorthand’. As above, though, we recognise not everyone with a disability or long-term condition would describe themselves as ‘disabled’.
What are adjustments?
You can read our information about what adjustments are on our page ‘What is a workplace adjustment?‘
If you have any questions about this guidance specifically, please email Business Disability Forum’s policy team at email@example.com.
Note: Business Disability Forum did not create the Adjustments Planner and we cannot make changes to it. We unfortunately cannot help individuals to complete the Planner either as we are a small team. Business Disability Forum’s involvement is purely in creating this guidance to help anyone who wants to use the Adjustments Planner to do so as effectively as possible.
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