POL-G-049, Version 1.0, 25 July 2013
Reasonable adjustment policy
The National Museum of Australia (the Museum) is a major cultural institution charged with researching, collecting, preserving and exhibiting historical material of the Australian nation. The Museum focuses on the three interrelated areas of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history and culture, Australia’s history and society since European settlement in 1788 and the interaction of people with the environment.
Established in 1980, the Museum is a publicly funded institution governed as a statutory authority in the Commonwealth Arts portfolio. The Museum’s building on Acton Peninsula, Canberra, opened in March 2001.
The Museum collects and shares the many stories from the various cultures of the Australian community. The Museum is committed to and promotes a diverse and socially inclusive workplace to encourage all employees to contribute to its operation and achievements. By providing an environment which is fit for purpose for all individuals, such as making changes to workstations, the physical workplace or work practices, the Museum hopes to provide staff with a disability with the means to more easily contribute to the Museum’s strategic plan.
This document outlines the Museum’s approach to reasonable adjustment of the work environment for employees with a disability or with a temporary disability resulting from a non-compensable injury or illness. The scope includes providing assistance to job applicants with a permanent or temporary disability. The policy also provides definitions for reasonable adjustment, disability, direct and indirect discrimination and outlines the responsibilities of the Executive, business unit managers, Human Resources, the Workplace Health and Safety manager and employees.
4. Definition of terms
‘Reasonable adjustment’ refers to the change or modification of workplace practices, procedures, policies, environment or equipment to enable an employee to carry out their duties effectively. The reasonable adjustment may be either permanent or temporary.
The Disability Discrimination Act 1992 defines disability as;
- a total or partial loss of a person’s body or their mental or bodily function
- the presence in the body of organisms causing or capable of causing illness or disease
- the malfunction, malformation or disfigurement of a part of the body
- a disorder or malfunction that results in the person learning differently than others
- a disorder, illness or disease that affects a person’s thought processes, perception of reality, emotions or judgement, or results in disturbed behaviour.
The definition includes a disability that presently exists; or previously existed but no longer exists; or may exist in the future; or is imputed to a person.
Direct discrimination occurs when a person who has, or is alleged to have, a disability is treated less favourably than a person without that disability would be treated in the same or similar circumstances.
Indirect discrimination happens when a policy, practice or procedure is established to apply to all and the impact or outcome of that policy, practice or procedure unintentionally disadvantages a person with a disability. For example, interviews for a job are held on a second floor with no access to a lift.
Employment Assistance Fund
Work Focus, a Commonwealth government initiative through the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, administers the Employment Assistance Fund (EAF). The EAF can provide assistance for the Museum and staff members with a disability by providing financial support for the modification of the work environment. Financial assistance is available for a range of workplace solutions including: Auslan interpreting services, the modification of work stations and other assistive technology.
The Disability Discrimination Act 1992 does not explicitly define unjustifiable hardship but does provide some guidance for decision-makers. To determine if a reasonable adjustment would incur unjustifiable hardship for the Museum, the decision-maker must take account of all relevant circumstances of each case, including the nature of the benefit to or disadvantage suffered by any employee, the effect of the employee’s disability and the financial circumstances of and the predicted cost to the Museum
Workplace Modification Assessor
A Workplace Modification Assessor (WMA) is nominated by JobAccess. A WMA confirms a person’s disability is a barrier to employment and that any requested modifications in an EAF application are required to complete the inherent conditions of a person’s position. Importantly, a WMA provides expert advice and information about equipment and workplace modifications that are available to address identified barriers to completing the inherent conditions of a position.
The Museum is committed to a diverse workplace. By making reasonable adjustments to the workplace, where necessary, the Museum enables employees with a permanent or temporary disability to effectively participate and contribute to the operations of the Museum and its achievements.
5.1 What is reasonable adjustment?
Reasonable adjustment requires the modification or alteration of the work environment, practice or management and will be different in each situation. Examples of reasonable adjustment may include one or more of the following:
1. adjustments to workplace or work-related premises, equipment or facilities, including provision of additional equipment or facilities
2. adjustments to work-related communication or information provision, including the forms or formats in which information is available
3. adjustments to work methods
4. adjustments to work arrangements, including hours of work and use of leave entitlements
5. adjustments to methods used for testing, assessment or selection
6. adjustments to work-related rules or other adjustments to enable a person to comply with rules as they exist
7. access to training, transfer, acting, trial or higher duties positions, traineeships, or other forms of opportunity to demonstrate or develop capacity in a position
8. provision of interpreters, readers, attendants or other work-related assistance
9. permitting or facilitating a person to use equipment or assistance provided by the person with a disability or by another person or organisation providing training to co-workers or supervisors
10. other work-related adjustments other than altering the inherent conditions of a position.
5.2 When is reasonable adjustment implemented?
Reasonable adjustment occurs when an applicant for a position or a staff member discloses their disability and agrees to undergo a workstation or workplace modification assessment.
Disclosure of a disability can be made at any time. Disclosure is most likely to occur:
- at the time of application for a position
- when an interview or employment is offered
- when a new role is commenced
- when significant changes are made to the person’s role
- when an employee is ill or injured.
5.3 Work performance discussions
The Museum’s performance management framework, workplace conversations (WPCs), is designed to provide supervisors and employees with an opportunity to discuss a range of workplace issues, including the inherent requirements of a position, the employee’s capacity to undertake the duties of a position and measures needed to assist the employee to undertake their duties. The measures can include, but are not limited to, such things as training, job design and equipment.
Supervisors and employees are encouraged to use WPCs to identify, monitor and review individual needs to ensure that all employees have the capability and capacity to meet performance expectations and requirements. This includes discussing and addressing any need for the Museum to make reasonable adjustments for the employee.
All employees at the Museum are required to comply with the Privacy Act 1988 and the Information Privacy Principles. Therefore, Museum employees have obligations placed on them regarding the collection, storage, and use and sharing of personal information. Any information collected or created during a reasonable adjustment process will be handled in accordance with these principles.
5.5 Environmental adjustments
After the completion of an assessment by Human Resources, the Work Health and Safety manager or a qualified occupational therapist, the Museum shall consider and take necessary steps to implement recommendations for any modification(s) or alteration(s) to the work environment.
Any equipment or software purchased by the Museum for use by an employee is the property of the Museum (see Attachment A for examples of the types of equipment that may be provided),
5.6 External assistance
The Museum may apply to Work Focus for a WMA to conduct a workplace assessment if it is unable to provide the required modifications or equipment for the employee or does not have the available assistive technology or expertise.
All stakeholders will be consulted during this process and all suitable options will be considered before any purchase is made. If external assistance is provided, any equipment purchased, must be used for the stated purpose of the purchase.
Any portable assistive technology purchased through the EAF is the property of the staff member to support their mobility across roles.
By consulting with employees affected by workplace decisions and actions, the Museum aims to avoid any disagreements. If a dispute does arise, the Museum will work with the employee to resolve the issue in a timely, frank and transparent way. Any dispute will be resolved through the processes outlined in the current Enterprise Agreement for dispute resolution.
Where an EAF application is declined for reasons other than the applicant being ineligible for assistance or failing to complete or create a new application, the applicant may seek a review of the decision, which may include an amendment or resubmission of an EAF application. Applicants should discuss the application with the Work Focus WMA, before submitting a written request to the Work Focus Manager for a review, amendment or resubmission of a declined EAF application.
5.8 Funding of reasonable adjustment
The nature of the work needed for reasonable adjustment will determine who is responsible for funding any modifications or changes to the workplace.
- Premises and amenities (includes modifications to accommodation and accessibility). Capital funds allocated to the Facilities business unit may be used to meet any costs unless the cost and/or works impose an unjustifiable hardship on the Museum.
- Workstation and workplace assessments. Human Resources funds these assessments when it relates to an existing injury, illness or disability.
- Personal equipment (e.g. chairs, wrist or foot supports, personal lights). Human Resources will meet some negotiated costs through its operational budget, and business units may be required to provide some funding if the equipment is required due to an existing injury, illness or disability.
- Work Focus WMA recommended reasonable adjustment. Initially, Human Resources will provide the required funding. Human Resources will then seek reimbursement through the EAF.
6. Definition of responsibilities
The Museum Executive shall champion the Museum’s commitment to a diverse and inclusive workforce, establishing the Museum as an employer of choice within the Australian Public Service; not only to meet its legislative requirements but also its social responsibilities. The Museum’s Executive shall, where possible, support the use of reasonable adjustments and endorse funding initiatives for these commitments.
Business unit manager
Managers shall seek assistance from Human Resources for reasonable adjustment measures as soon as practicable after an employee discloses a disability, injury or illness. Managers will then work cooperatively with the employee, Human Resources, WMAs or the Manager, Workplace Health and Safety to find an appropriate solution.
Business unit managers will accept and implement recommendations for reasonable adjustment from Human Resources, WMAs or the Manager, Workplace Health and Safety. Managers will also maintain the health and safety of all staff with assistance from the Manager, Workplace Health and Safety.
Human Resources shall work cooperatively with employees, business unit managers, WMAs and the Manager, Workplace Health and Safety to assist employees who may need reasonable adjustment.
Human Resources will either facilitate or assist WMAs with workstation and workplace assessments. Human Resources shall monitor and assist in the implementation of reasonable adjustments for the employee.
Manager, Workplace Health and Safety
The Manager, Workplace Health and Safety shall work cooperatively with employees, business unit managers, Human Resources and WMAs during any workstation or workplace assessment and assist where necessary with the implementation of any required reasonable adjustment, to ensure the safety of all employees is maintained.
Employees should disclose their disability, to their business unit manager or to the Human Resources manager, if or when it affects their ability to perform the inherent requirements of their position or it creates a health and safety risk to themselves or others in the workplace.
To find an appropriate and reasonable adjustment, employees shall work cooperatively with their business unit manager, Human Resources, WMAs and the Manager, Workplace Health and Safety.
Employees shall accept the recommendations of workstation and workplace assessment and assist in the implementation of any reasonable adjustments while maintaining health and safety for themselves and any other employee in their area.
The Manager, Human Resources represents the Museum in the implementation of this policy.
All Museum employees, volunteers and applicants for employment opportunities.
8.2 Other related policies
Section 5.6 External Assistance of this policy refers to Work Focus assistance; applications for this service must meet Work Focus qualifying periods. Employees who do not qualify will have their reasonable adjustments assessed through a Return to Work program managed by the Human Resources Advisor.
8.4 Superseded policies
This policy is monitored regularly by the Chief Operating Officer and the Manager, Human Resources and will be reviewed in 2015.
Attachment A - Reasonable adjustment equipment and software
An electrically operated bench-style desk allowing the user to alternate between sitting and standing to do their work
Adjustable seating to support muscular and skeletal injuries and impairments
Gliding palm support
Attaches to the PC mouse to relieve wrist pressure while in use
A weighted stand to position documents in the correct way to allow transcription to a PC
To assist staff to sit in a suitable ergonomic way at their work station
Adjustments and alterations to lighting, colour contrast, door opening force, fixtures, furniture and electronic lock placement or timing to assist staff with a disability to access the Museum’s buildings
Dragon Naturally Speaking
Allows PC users to access and operate PCs and their applications through voice command
Regularly interrupts PC work to ensure users take appropriate breaks from the PC and either rest or exercise hands, wrists, arms, eyes etc
25 July 2013
22 July 2013
Public and all staff
Reasonable adjustment, Workplace assessment, Work station assessment, Disability, Job access
Diversity and Wellbeing Support Officer