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Reasonable adjustments in the work place

Author: Emily Ross, Specialist Vocational Advisor



9th August 2022 | 3 mins read

Employers must make a reasonable adjustment to support employees in the workplace by law (Equality Act 2010). It is important to remember that the adjustments an employee or perspective candidate with autism will require will be individualised and dependant on the job role they are doing/applying for.


You might find when making a reasonable adjustment for an autistic employee, that it is actually best practice for all employees. What helps one employee, might help others too.

When considering reasonable adjustments, it is often useful to ask the question ‘why not?’ Just because things have always been done a certain way, doesn’t mean they always need to be done that way. Reasonable adjustments can open a wide range of ways of assessing talent.

Here is a list, which is not exclusive, to consider for all employees to benefit from.


Making interviews more accessible

Some autistic candidates may not feel comfortable in a traditional interview situation. There are lots of ways to make interviews more accessible including:

  1. “Seen questions.” Provide questions before the interview for all candidates, to stop bias and encourage candidates to answer more cohesively.
  2. Minimise sensory overload – reducing bright lights and/or conducting the interview in a quiet place can help candidates who might have sensory needs.
  3. Give the candidate more than the usual set interview time – this will allow candidates enough processing time to understand the question and to give their answer.
  4. Make questions clear. Provide appropriate context to questions, so candidates can relate to the question more easily.
  5. Allow a Job Coach or Employment Advisor to attend interviews with the candidate to help relax and prompt them when needed.
  6. Avoid situational judgement tests. Try and provide other activities that provide you with the information you are seeking from the candidate.
  7. Provide pictures of the environment. If the candidate can visualise the room where the interview will take place and who will interview them beforehand it could help relieve anxiety and ensure they are thoroughly prepared.
  8. Allow for candidates to have a copy of their CV or application form in front of them during an interview. The interviewers should have a copy too, so they know what the candidate is referring to.
  9. Provide a map of where the interview will take place, and helpful advice on how to get there. For example, the closest tube station or bus stop.
  10. Allow the candidate to participate in a work trial, where they show you what they can do in the role, rather than a traditional interview.


Making adjustments to the work environment

Once in role, there are adjustments that employers can make to provide ongoing support to their autistic employees.

  1. Create a weekly timetable (use visuals if needed) so your employee can keep track of what they are doing each day.
  2. Have a buddy system and assign an experienced member of staff to a new starter so they know who to approach for any support.
  3. Provide written instructions for all tasks so the employee knows how to complete a task in the correct way. You might only have to do this for a short time, while the employee gets used to the environment.
  4. Advise an employee in advance of any changes to normal routine to help them prepare. For example, if someone is going to celebrate a birthday or if a member of staff is leaving.
  5. Provide an employee with enough feedback. This could be done via weekly/fortnightly one-to-ones or could be via email.
  6. Quiet space. Allow employees to have a break in a quiet space when needed.
  7. Allow an employee extra time for processing.
  8. Create a task timetable so the employee knows which tasks to complete in the most efficient order. For example, use Now, Next and Then format.
  9. Use pictures/symbols when giving written information.
  10. Allow an employee to listen to music via headphones, or to wear noise cancelling headphones, so they can control their sensory input.


The right support at the right time

Every individual is different and will require a mix of adjustments, including some which may not be listed above. It is an employer’s responsibility to ensure that their employees have exactly what they need to fulfil their role.

For more information on employability, why not download our employability toolkit? From tips on communication, to approaches to support and resources, the toolkit is full of helpful tips and ideas.

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