Self help A-Z

What are self-help materials?

NUT Self-help materials are FAQs which address common employment issues affecting teachers and are entirely problem focused. They are not intended as a substitute for telephone or face-to-face advice, but are additional to the support provided by the NUT Adviceline, school/college reps, divisions and regional/Wales offices.

If you require more detailed advice, or are unable to find the answers you are looking for,
contact the NUT Adviceline (Telephone: 0203 006 6266); Email:

Members in Wales should call 029 2049 1818 or email

Policy and legislation may differ between England and Wales. Each self-help document is marked as intended for teachers in England or Wales or both. If a particular issue is covered, but not for either England or Wales, please contact the NUT AdviceLine or the Wales Office, as appropriate.

Making Work Fit

Making Work Fit

Reasonable Adjustments for disabled school and college staff

The social model of disability, which is a concept derived from the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability, focuses on the barriers preventing the inclusion of people with impairments and not on the impairment itself.  It recognises that people “are sometimes disabled by inaccessible services, barriers in the built environment or prejudice and stigma.”  It also recognises that these barriers change over time for the individual.

The duty to make reasonable adjustments under the Equality Act 2010 adopts this approach.  It requires school and college leaders to

Proactively identify barriers (both physical and attitudinal) to the inclusion of disabled people in the workplace;

Ask how we fit the job to the worker, rather than the worker to the job; make changes to workplace policies, practices and procedures to make them accessible to disabled people.

The NEU is committed to seeking to ensure that disabled people are welcomed into the profession, schools and colleges, and are encouraged to fulfil their potential through the enforcement of reasonable adjustment rights.

My right to reasonable adjustments

1.1       What are reasonable adjustments?
1.2       Do I have to be disabled to be entitled to reasonable adjustments?
1.3       Am I entitled to reasonable adjustments if I am an applicant for work?
1.4       When is my entitlement to reasonable adjustments triggered?
1.5       What is a provision, criterion or practice (PCP)?
1.6       What amounts to a physical feature of premises?
1.7       What is an ‘auxiliary aid’?
1.8       Why do I have to compare myself to a member of staff who isn’t disabled?   
1.9       Does the person I compare myself to have to be real?   
1.10     Do I have to disclose my condition to be entitled to reasonable adjustments?
1.11     When should I disclose my health condition to a prospective employer?
1.12     What should I do if I am asked about my health before I am offered the job? 
1.13     When is an adjustment ‘reasonable’?
1.14     What factors may my employer take into account when considering the reasonableness of an adjustment?


What kind of adjustments can I ask for?

2.1       The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) employment code
2.2       Making adjustments to premises
2.3       Allocating some duties to another worker
2.4       Transferring you to fill an existing vacancy
2.5       Altering your hours of work
2.6       Reducing your workload
2.7       Assigning you to a different place of work
2.8       Arranging home working
2.9       Allowing absences during working hours for rehabilitation, assessment and/or treatment
2.10     Supplying additional training
2.11     Acquiring or making changes to equipment
2.12     Providing a reader or signer
2.13     Modifying documents needed to do your work
2.14     Modifying procedures for testing or assessment
2.15     Providing you with a period of disability leave
2.16     Employing a support worker to assist you



3.1       Have you developed a health condition or has your existing condition
3.2       If you have answered ‘yes’


Asking for reasonable adjustments

4.1       Am I obliged to ask for reasonable adjustments?
4.2       Should I be consulted about proposed adjustments?
4.3       Who is responsible for making reasonable adjustments?
4.4       When should the issue of adjustments first be raised?
4.5       What should I do if I think my health has deteriorated because of work?
4.6       Can I ask for reasonable adjustments even if I haven’t been diagnosed with a disability?
4.7       Can I be asked to contribute to the cost of adjustments?
4.8       Is there a limit on the number of adjustments my employer may be asked to make?
4.9       Can my employer refuse to make an adjustment on the basis that it’s too expensive?
4.10     Whose financial resources should be taken into account when assessing ‘reasonableness’?
4.11     I’ve been told that it would be unfair to colleagues to grant my request for adjustments. Is that a valid reason to refuse my request?
4.12     What should I do if I have asked for adjustments and have been refused or have received no answer?
4.13     Things to remember when asking for reasonable adjustments.


Examples of good practice - how to get it right

5.1      AIDS/HIV
5.2      Bipolar Affective Disorder
5.3      Cancer
5.4      Dyslexia
5.5      Hearing Impairment
5.6      Menopause
5.7      Mobility Impairment
5.8      Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI)
5.9      Bipolar Disorder
5.10    Stress and Anxiety
5.11    Visual impairment


Reasonable adjustments and pay

6.1      Am I entitled to pay while on long-term sickness absence for a disability related reason?
6.2      What if I am absent from work because my employer has been slow to make adjustments?
6.3      Am I entitled to full pay while on a phased return to work?
6.4      Can statutory holiday pay entitlements be used to top up salary during a phased return to work?
6.5      Will I be denied a pay rise if I miss all or some of my appraisal cycle because of long-term sick leave?
6.6      What kind of reasonable adjustments may employers make to their pay policies?
6.7      Employers’ health & safety obligations towards new and nursing mothers


GPs and Occupational Health

7.1     When should my GP issue a Fit Note?
7.2     What if I am currently fit for work?
7.3     Should I be using intermittent short-term sickness absence as a coping mechanism?
7.4     How can my GP help me make a case for reasonable adjustments?
7.5     Is my GP required to provide my employer with a precise diagnosis?
7.6     When should I be referred to occupational health?
7.7     Can a GP use the Fit Note to recommend referral to occupational health?
7.8      How can an occupational health professional help me make a case for reasonable adjustments?


Confidentiality and sickness absence insurers

8.1      What is sickness absence insurance?
8.2      What kind of information may my employer be asked to disclose to insurers?
8.3      Do I have to disclose my disability or health condition to my employer’s insurers?
8.4      What are the sensitive data conditions which must be satisfied?
8.5      What should I do if I am pressured into disclosing my disability or health condition?


Access to work – who are they and how can they help?

9.1      What is Access to Work?
9.2      What does Access to Work do?
9.3      Am I eligible for help through Access to Work?
9.4      What type of help can be provided through Access to Work?
9.5      Should my employer contact Access to Work on my behalf?
9.6      How will my needs be assessed?
9.7      How long will it take to get the help I need?
9.8      How do I apply for Access to Work?
9.9      Can I appeal against a refusal to provide funding?
9.10    What are the potential pitfalls of Access to Work?