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POL-G-049, Version 2.1, 23 November 2020

1. Title

Reasonable adjustment policy

2. Introduction

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 3 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.

3. Scope

3.1 Purpose

This document outlines the Museum’s approach to providing reasonable adjustments for employees and prospective employees with a disability or with a temporary disability, or an injury or illness which is impacting on their ability to perform their job.

4. Definition of terms

Reasonable adjustment

‘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 or a prospective employee apply for a vacant position. The reasonable adjustment may be either permanent or temporary.

Disability

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

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

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 workstations and other assistive technology.

Unjustifiable hardship

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.

5. Guidelines

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 and potentially provides access to employment for people with a disability.

5.1 What is reasonable adjustment?

Reasonable adjustments are any form of assistance or adjustment that is necessary, possible and reasonable to reduce or eliminate barriers at work.

In order to make reasonable adjustments for an employee, the inherent requirements of the job need to be clearly understood. The inherent requirements of a job relate to what needs to be accomplished in the job rather than how the job is accomplished. The focus should be on how the person’s injury, illness or disability affects their ability to undertake their work and what adjustments can be made to overcome this.

Reasonable adjustments should be tailored to meet individual requirements and circumstances and will be based on the personal circumstances of each person requiring an adjustment.

Reasonable adjustments can be temporary or long-term. They need to be reviewed regularly to make sure they remain relevant and effective for the employee, as well as manageable within the workplace.

Examples of the types of reasonable adjustments include:

  • Physical adjustments: Modifying the workplace/workstation to make it accessible, changing the workspace, providing additional equipment or tools.
  • Work arrangements: Adjustments to work hours or duties such as part-time work, starting and finishing later, working from home, assistance in managing workload.
  • Adjustments to the job: Modifying duties, adjusting work methods, providing additional training, modifying work patterns.
  • Technological assistance: Providing new or modifying existing equipment and tools, for example, speech-recognition software.

5.2 When is reasonable adjustment implemented?

Reasonable adjustment occurs when an applicant for a position or an employee shares information about their disability, injury or illness and agrees to undergo a workstation or workplace modification assessment.

Sharing information about a disability, injury or illness can be made at any time. Sharing of this information is most likely to occur:

  • at the time of application for a position
  • when an interview or offer of employment is made
  • when an employee changes positions
  • 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.

5.4 Privacy

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 Museum may engage the services of a qualified occupational therapist or an ergonomist to assist in the identification of appropriate workplace modifications or alterations to the working environment or tasks.

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 employee and will be transferred with the employee to any new role.

5.7 Disputes

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.

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: For example, 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.

5.9 Delivery of reasonable adjustments

Where ready-made reasonable adjustments can be purchased from a local area specialist store or a domestic online provider, it will be delivered within 28 days after the purchase has been approved by the identified business unit manager, as outlined in 5.8.

6. Definition of responsibilities

Museum Executive

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 shares information about 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

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

Employees should share information about their disability, injury or illness, 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 Work Health and Safety Manager.

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.

7. References

Commonwealth Disability Discrimination Act 1992
Australian Human Rights Commission – Disability discrimination
Comcare – Reasonable adjustment fact sheet
Department of Employment, Education and Workplace Relations – Employee Adjustment Fund guidelines

8. Implementation

The Manager, Human Resources represents the Museum in the implementation of this policy.

8.1 Coverage

All Museum employees, volunteers and applicants for employment opportunities.

8.2 Other related policies

Assistance animals and disability aids guidelines and procedures PRO-008
Rehabilitation policy POL-G-044

8.3 Exclusions

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 Senior Human Resources Advisor.

8.4 Superseded policies

None

8.5 Monitoring

This policy is monitored regularly by the Manager, Human Resources and will be reviewed in November 2023.

Attachment A – Reasonable adjustment equipment and software

EquipmentDescription
Sit/stand desk An electrically operated bench-style desk allowing the user to alternate between sitting and standing to do their work
Ergonomic seating 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
Document holder A weighted stand to position documents in the correct way to allow transcription to a PC
Footrest To assist staff to sit in a suitable ergonomic way at their workstation
Premises 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
EquipmentDescription
Dragon Naturally Speaking Allows PC users to access and operate PCs and their applications through voice command
Work Pace Regularly interrupts PC work to ensure users take appropriate breaks from the PC and either rest or exercise hands, wrists, arms, eyes, etc

Metadata

ID POL-G-049
Version 2.1
Version date 23 November 2020
Type General operational
Approval dates

Approved by Executive Management 1 December 2020

File

12/923; 19/1237

Availability Public and all staff
Keywords Reasonable adjustment, workplace assessment, workstation assessment, disability, job access
Responsible officer Diversity and Wellbeing Support Officer
History Reasonable adjustment policy v1.0
Previous versions approved 25 July 2013; 28 November 2017
Review date December 2021
Related documents Disability Discrimination Act 1992
Employee Assistance Fund guidelines
Assistance animals access guidelines and procedures PRO-008
Rehabilitation Policy POL-G-041
Contact

National Museum of Australia
GPO Box 1901
CANBERRA ACT 2601

Tel: (02) 6208 5000
Email: information@nma.gov.au
Website: www.nma.gov.au

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