Reasonable adjustments: What is reasonable?


2 mins

Posted on 14 Oct 2011

In Cordell v Foreign & Commonwealth Office, the EAT found that the cost of an adjustment for a deaf senior diplomat was not reasonable as it would cost about £250,000 per year to provide the support. We reported on the original ET judgment for this case earlier this year.

Whilst the EAT was very sympathetic to Ms Cordell’s situation, the requirement to provide reasonable adjustments does not extend to compensate the individual at whatever the cost. Further, the EAT confirmed that cost is one of the “central considerations” in the assessment of reasonableness and this must be weighed with the degree of benefit to the employee. Most cases will turn on their own facts. Therefore what is right in one situation may not be right in another. Further, the EAT has stated that the ET must consider what is “right and just” in those circumstances.

The Code of Practice for Employment and Occupation sets out useful guidance in respect of the reasonableness of reasonable adjustments. A copy of the Code can be found here (page 73). In addition to these considerations, the EAT has stated that it will be reasonable to look at the employer’s reasonable adjustments budget (although this will not be conclusive), what the employer has spent in comparable situations, what other employers have/would spend and whether there is some type of collective agreement or other indication to suggest what would be reasonable in the circumstances.

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