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Employment: Examples of reasonable adjustments

This page, aimed at both people who stammer and employers, gives examples of possible reasonable adjustments in the employment context for people who stammer. For the Equality Act employment rules in general see my employment page.

"EqA" or "Equality Act" means the Equality Act 2010 (link to legislation.gov.uk)

The "Employment Code"
means the 2011 Equality Act Code of Practice on employment (pdf, link to EHRC website), which came into force on 6th April, 2011. (More on EqA Codes of Practice)

Summary of reasonable adjustment rules:

Where any provision, criterion or practice applied by or on behalf of an employer places a disabled person at a substantial disadvantage in comparison with non-disabled people, the employer is obliged to take such steps as it is reasonable to have to take to avoid the disadvantage. 'Substantial' means only more than minor or trivial.

There is also an obligation to take such steps as it is reasonable to have to take to provide an auxiliary aid or service where a disabled person would otherwise be put at a substantial disadvantage. Another duty relates to physical features.

The employer can sometimes have a 'lack of knowledge' defence.

More detail on the reasonable adjustment rules...

Introduction

An employer's duty to make reasonable adjustments is one of the most important parts of the Equality Act for disabled people. (More detail on the reasonable adjustment rules...)

Particularly in a recruitment situation, giving an employer advance notice of the need for adjustments will often make them more likely to happen in practice. Advance notice may also help an argument that the adjustments are legally required, but is not always necessary.

What follows are just possible examples of reasonable adjustments. (Further suggestions are welcome - allan@atyrer.net.) What is appropriate and reasonable will depend on the circumstances, and different people who stammer have different needs. It will often be a good idea for the employer and the person who stammers to discuss what is appropriate.

This page is not restricted to the reasonable adjustment duty. Some examples below arise from the duty to avoid 'discrimination arising from disability' or 'indirect discrimination' For example, recruitment decisions should be based on what is relevant for the particular job.

The Business Disability Forum has produced a Tailored Adjustment Agreement (link to businessdisabilityforum.org.uk) which organisations can use if they wish to record adjustments.

The recruitment process, including promotion

Best person for the job

An employer can appoint the best person for the job (bearing in mind any adjustments that will be reasonable in the job). However, without reasonable adjustments in the recruitment process, it may not become apparent that the person who stammers is the best person for the job.

See Y v Calderdale Council (2003) and Y v Bradford Council (2006) for examples of cases where the tribunal held that an employer had failed to make sufficient reasonable adjustments to the recruitment process for a person who stammers. In the Calderdale case, the tribunal found that the applicant would have had a 50-50 chance of getting the job had proper adjustments been made.

Job / Person specifications

These should not contain requirements which are unnecessary or seldom used. Requirements should be objectively justifiable for that post (See Employment Code para 16.4-16.18, and EHRC's guidance Information about what the job involves and what skills, qualities and experience a person will need to do it (link to EHRC website)).

For example, how many jobs ask for 'excellent communication skills', and how many times is that actually justified? Would 'good' communication skills actually be sufficient, and do the skills need to be primarily oral? Could reasonable adjustments help? (NB: some people who stammer do have excellent oral communication skills. See further Assessment of oral skills: What is being assessed.)

An employer uses a person specification for an accountant's post that states '€˜employees must be confident in dealing with external clients' when in fact the job in question does not involve liaising directly with external clients. This requirement is unnecessary and could lead to discrimination against disabled people who have difficulty interacting with others, such as some people with autism.
Employment Code para 16.4

Interviews - oral

Possible adjustments are suggested below. However, if the job candidate is at a substantial (i.e. more than minor or trivial) disadvantage in an oral interview even with adjustments, alternatives such as written responses should be considered, even if a job requires oral skills. As discussed under that link, a disadvantage may exist even if the person sounds fairly fluent.

Interviewers and managers may want to read British Stammering Association's In conversation with a person who stammers (on BSA website). BSA also has guides for employers and employees.

Oral interview: longer time

This will be appropriate for some, and perhaps many, people who stammer.

Sometimes insufficient extra time is allowed because the interviewers feel they have to end the interview when the next interviewee's appointment time arrives - or soon after, so the next interviewee does not wait too long. A way to deal with this is to schedule the interview of the person who stammers at the end of a session of interviews. This gives greater flexibilility to extend the interview as required. It would seem reasonable for an employer to have to schedule the interview in this way, at least if it knows or should know of the issue. An advance request by the person who stammers will make the adjustment more likely to happen in practice, and may be relevant to how far the employer has obligations.

How much extra time is required to compensate for the person's disadvantage will obviously depend on the person. Some people who stammer take very much longer to speak, some do not. For some job applicants, allowing any amount of extra time in the interview will not be enough (see next paragraph).

Allowing a longer time can be important, but it is not necessarily sufficient:

Longer time was held insufficient in Y v Calderdale Council, where use of written answers or technology should have been considered.

In HM Land Registry v Wakefield longer time was offered alongside other adjustments, including allowing the candidate to supplement his oral answers with something in writing.

Removing time parameters from the interview was also one of the adjustments considered in Shirlow v Translink.

Oral interview: awareness of interviewers

Interviewers should be aware of stammering issues, and can get information from the British Stammering Association. For example:

Oral interview: not appropriate to assess workplace communication

It is very possible that the person will communicate more easily in the work situation than in the interview, even if the workplace situation might be seen as 'more challenging'. For example, in one case a firefighter could communicate at a blazing fire but stammered more at the interview. For more, see separate page Assessment of oral skills.

In Y v Calderdale Council, the tribunal fully accepted that the applicant received sympathetic and well-meaning treatment from the two interviewers who tried to give him time to answer; refrained from interrupting him and made some gentle attempts to probe his answers. However, this was not sufficient to comply with the employer's duty to make reasonable adjustments.

Oral interview: Limited responses

An employer may be tempted to reject a person who stammers because he only made 'limited responses' at the interview (as in Y v Calderdale Council and HM Land Registry v Wakefield). This may well have been due to the time and effort it took him to speak, or perhaps avoiding words on which he felt he would stammer.

The employer may not have made the necessary reasonable adjustments to enable the person who stammers to convey the information that other candidates are able to convey in the oral interview, and should consider arrangements to allow the person who stammers to do that, including taking into account written information (immediately below), written responses, or use of technology.

Of course, sometimes limited responses may not the be result of a stammer. In Shirlow v Translink the tribunal was happy that these were due to lack of preparation by the claimant.

Oral interview: Supplementing from written sources

Not giving due weight to written sources may well penalise a person who has difficulty speaking. Even if given more time, a person who stammers may say less because they find it difficult to speak, or are trying to a greater or lesser extent to hide their stammer. This may not be readily apparent, or interviewers may feel he is not answering questions 'properly' or 'fully' - as in HM Land Registry v Wakefield and Reasonable adjustment settlement. In any event, the applicant may not communicate enough through speech to score as they should vis-a-vis other candidates. One solution may be to allow written answers to interview questions, but these are some possible alternatives:

Oral interview: Number of interviewers

Having fewer people present may put less pressure on the person's speech, and may be a reasonable adjustment. This may be helpful even if interviewer numbers would normally be relatively small. By way of an extreme example, though, in one interview the whole university department was present.

On the other hand:

In Shirlow v Translink there was only one interviewer and claimant said he would have prefered two, as he found the lack of eye contact difficult. The issue was presumably that the one interviewer was taking notes a lot of the time, and so was unable to maintain eye contact. With two interviewers, one could take notes and one could maintain eye contact.

On the other hand, some people who stammer may not have this problem of wanting to retain someone's eye contact. I would say it is better for employers not to make assumptions as to what a particular individual who stammers will find easiest, but to ask the person. One possibility though is clearly to have two people, one to take notes and the other to ask the questions and generally maintain eye contact and be overtly listening to the interviewee.

Oral interview: Telephone interviews

Many people who stammer find speaking on the phone particularly difficult. A phone interview may therefore put a person who stammers at a greater disadvantage. Phone interviews are often just used for initial screening, and one possible adjustment would be to waive the person who stammers through the screening stage. Or it could be a reasonable adjustment to offer a face-to-face interview or non-oral arrangements instead.

Oral interview: Acknowledging the stammer

In Shirlow v Translink the claimant argued that the interviewer could have acknowledged his impediment and reassured him that he could take his time. The tribunal accepted the claimant's evidence that this might have been reassuring to him. However the tribunal was also able to accept the fear expressed by the interviewer that any such comment might be misinterpreted.

Anyway, in that case it was not held to be a reasonable adjustment because the claimant's failure to provide examples of his competence areas was down to lack of preparation rather than speech difficulties. Also the employer had not been told in advance of the stammer, and so had no foreknowledge of the claimant's situation.

Employers will of course want to avoid breaching s.60 EqA on pre-employment enquiries.

Oral interview: Preparation time?

Advance notice of the interview questions to allow some preparation time was provided in HM Land Registry v Wakefield, though the candidate had serious reservations about it being an effective adjustment for him. See HM Land Registry v Wakefield: My comments: Preparation time as reasonable adjustment?

Oral interview: Type of chair

For a few people who stammer, a particular sitting position may help their speech. For example, those using a technique called 'vocal fold management' are likely to want an upright chair.

Interviews - written answers

It may be reasonable for the applicant to be allowed to give written answers to the interviewers' list of pre-set interview questions (and possibly other questions), rather than having to answer orally.

Written answers: When may this required/reasonable?

Cases won by a person with a severe stammer in relation to giving written answers to interview questions (or other alternatives to speech) are Y v Calderdale Council and Y v Bradford Council.

Giving written responses to interview questions is not limited to where the person is stammering severely. Nor is it necessarily excluded if the job requires oral skills (see below Assessment of oral skills). Key questions are whether the job candidate is at a substantial (i.e. more than minor or trivial) disadvantage at oral interview even with adjustments to it, and whether written responses is a reasonable adjustment to allow.

In HM Land Registry v Wakefield the emploment tribunal held that written answers should have been allowed even where outwardly the applicant did not stammer that much at the interview. This was because covert symptoms of the stammer such as word avoidance meant that he "failed to show in-depth experiences and examples," and was thus unable to build on the information in his application form like other candidates. Also, given that the candidate had a stammering problem in interviews, it was not reasonable to use these to ascertain how his oral skills would be on the job itself. This decision was overturned by the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) on the evidence - but it illustrates a situation where with appropriate evidence the adjustment might be required. (The EAT seemed to think that on the particular facts it might be reasonable to use an interview as a tool to ascertain oral skills on the job. However, I would expect that to be rebuttable with appropriate evidence - see below Assessment of oral skills.)

Written answers: How much time to allow?

It can be argued that any time limit for producing the written answers should enable the candidate to write the same amount as any time allowance for a spoken interview allows other candidates to say. Eg if a particular person types or writes three times slower than normal speaking pace they should be allowed three times as long (see my comments on Y v Bradford Council).

If follow-up questions are dealt with separately afterwards (see below), it is arguably reasonable to reduce the full interview time allowance on which the calculation is based to reflect the fact that the time limit is only for initial answers and not follow-ups. This is tricky though as it is difficult to know in advance how far exploratory questions will be required.

Written answers: Giving information to candidate

The applicant should be given details in advance of how the selection process will run. The tribunal in Y v Bradford Council held that in failing to do this, the Council was in breach of its duty to make a reasonable adjustment. In particular the applicant should have been told how long he had to write answers, so that he could manage his time.

Written answers: Follow-up questions - oral?

At least if the applicant wishes, consideration could be given to having any follow-up questions asked orally, exploring the written answers to the pre-set questions. Asking supplemental questions orally was suggested by the employment tribunal in HM Land Registry v Wakefield. If follow-ups are answered orally, further adjustments might be considered if required, to help level the playing field, such as allowing enough time for the oral answers, and perhaps an opportunity after the oral follow-ups to write anything he was unable to say.

Reasons to consider oral follow-ups:

Written answers: Generally

See generally Y v Bradford Council on arrangements for written responses, where the tribunal held the employer's arrangements to be insufficient, and also Y v Calderdale Council.

Written answers: Combining with oral interview

Written sources can also be combined with an oral interview - see above Oral interview: Supplementing with written sources.

Interviews - use of technology

Displaying text on large screen or wall

A job applicant who stammers might be provided with facilities for typing answers into a computer and these would be projected onto the wall or a large screen. Many of the issues discussed under TTS below apply here too. For an example where this was done and some discussion, see Projector case study.

'Text to speech' (TTS)

TTS technology was used in part in Y v Calderdale Council, and it was considered by the tribunal in Y v Bradford Council. On TTS, see also the Presentations heading below, and adjustments for presentations during the job.

Tests

"Modifying procedures for testing or assessment" is expressly mentioned in the Employment Code para 6.33 as an example of a possible reasonable adjustment. "Allowing a disabled person extra time to complete the test" and "allowing a disabled applicant to take an oral test in writing" are two examples specifically given in Employment Code para 16.54. Para 16.55 says the extent to which such adjustments would be reasonable "may depend on ... how closely the test is related to the job in question and what adjustments the employer would be reasonably required to make if the applicant were given the job."

Assessment of oral skills

So far as oral skills are being assessed, special considerations apply - see separate page Assessment of oral skills.

Other skills

So far as other skills are being assessed, if adjustments such as a longer time for an oral test are insufficient to deal with any substantial disadvantage, it is likely to be reasonable to allow the test to be taken in written form (see Written answers above on time allowance). Also the discussion of Oral assessments in education is relevant, though the detailed rules are different.

Presentations (in recuitment)

See Recuitment: Presentations.

On the job and other adjustments

Under this heading I list other examples of possible adjustments. Note that even for a continuing non-deliberate failure to make adjustments there is a cut-off point for making a claim.

Fluency device

An electronic fluency device (using DAF, FAF and/or masking) can help some people speak more fluently. See BSA website: Electronic fluency devices on these devices or software and possible suppliers.

The devices are often expensive. An Access to Work grant may be available towards the cost (often meeting all or most of the cost), even if the person is already employed. Using DAF/FAF software on a mobile device or PC could also be considered. The Employment Code at paras 6.37-6.38 says it is likely to be a reasonable step for the employer to help a disabled person in making an application for assistance from Access to Work, and it may be unreasonable for an employer to decide not to make an adjustment based on its cost before finding out whether financial assistance for it is available from Access to Work or another source.

The Employment Code says:

There is no requirement to provide ... equipment for personal purposes unconnected with a worker's job, such as providing a wheelchair if a person needs one in any event but does not have one. The disadvantages in such a case do not flow from the employer's arrangements or premises.
Employment Code, para 6.33

However, this reasoning does not seem to take into account the new auxiliary aid adjustment duty for employment under Equality Act 2010. In any event, although a fluency device might be of use outside work, it is likely to be mainly needed for challenging speech situations at work, such as presentations, meetings and business phone calls.

I have heard of an employer paying for an electronic fluency device even without an Access to Work grant.

Telephone

Telephone: Set phrases or script

BSA's 'Telephone calls' (on BSA website) includes tips, articles, technology and services and which may help with using the phone.

See also my Telephone page, which brings together Equality Act issues to do with the phone.

Where the job involves saying set phrases or following a set script, such as in a call centre or when first answering the phone, these could be modified to make them easier for the person to say.

Telephone: Modifying a target

Modifying a target may be reasonable. For example, a call centre might modify a target of how many calls a person should get through in a particular time, or of how long a call is expected to last. One call centre modified the expected length of a call for a staff member who stammered.

Telephone: Open plan offices

Some people who stammer find it particularly difficult speaking on the phone if work colleagues can overhear. See Open plan offices below.

Telephone: Own phone

One person who stammers was given their own phone. They previously shared a phone, and had difficulty answering it when it could be any one of several people in the office that the caller wanted to speak to.

Telephone: Reallocating duties

Answering the telephone - or possibly speaking on the phone generally - might be done by someone else if a person who stammers finds it a significant problem and does not wish to do it. This is presumably more likely to be reasonable if answering the phone is only a minor or subsidiary duty. However, even if it is more than a minor part of the job, a re-allocation of duties may still be a reasonable adjustment, the question being whether it is a reasonable step for the employer to have to take in the circumstances. (For example, in Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police v Jelic (2010) a job swap was held to be reasonable on the facts.)

One thing that will often be feasible is for others in the office to answer the phone whenever possible, with only calls specifically for the person who stammers then being put through to him or her.

A deaf person has successfully argued that job tasks should have been rearranged so that he did not have to answer the phone, where the adjustment could have been done without any great expense or inconvenience on the part of the employer - see Victory for deaf man in landmark judgement (link to equality-ne.co.uk), August 2002.

There is more below on Allocating duties to another person (and also Transfer to another job).

Telephone: Electronic fluency device

An electronic fluency device (DAF/FAF/masking) may help a person speak more fluently on the phone. See above Fluency device. Some are designed specifically to link with a phone.

Telephone: Phone calls without speaking

There are also textphones and other ways of having a phone call without speaking - see BSA website: Making telephone calls without speaking.

Telephone: Email, and storage limit

If a person who stammers has problems speaking on the phone, it may be feasible to make more use of alternative means of communication, such as email or writing. Where there is a limit on how many emails an employee is allowed to store, it may well be reasonable to increase the individual's email storage limit.

Telephone: Emailing beforehand

One technique that can be helpful for someone who has difficulty on the phone is emailing the other person beforehand to set out the information, and perhaps issues to discuss, that one would otherwise have had to communicate in the phone call, and saying one will phone to discuss. Then when they have had a chance to read it, one can give them a call to discuss it orally.

Telephone: face-to-face alternative

Many people who stammer tend to find it easier to communicate face-to-face than on the telephone. It may therefore be reasonable for something to be done face-to-face rather than by phone.

This could apply to many different speaking situations at work, but a tribunal case illustrating the adjustment (in the context of a deaf employee) happens to relate to an internal staff discussion. In Cottrell v North Tyneside Disability Forum, an Employment Tribunal found an employer to be in breach of the reasonable adjustment duty where it failed to agree a meeting with a deaf employee who wanted to express concerns. She could not simply pick up the phone to say what was wrong, and needed a professionally trained lipspeaker. (March 2010, ET/2506378/08).

Telephone: Not having to phone in sick

When off sick: allowing the person to email in that they are off sick, rather than requiring them to telephone. Indeed the person may find speech particularly difficult when they are ill.

Telephone: not advertising phone number

One person with a fairly severe stammer who works for a Council appears on their website as one of the contacts for his department, but only his email, fax number, and postal address are given there, no phone number. For other contacts a phone number is given as well. Presumably this has been done at the request of, or at least with the agreement of, the person who stammers.

Telephone: private phone calls

It may well be reasonable for an employer who normally does not allow private phone calls to allow them to a person who stammers in order to help. their speech.

The person who stammers might be allowed to phone a friend, for example, or the BSA helpline (external link) in order to 'limber up' their speech before a work phone call or meeting.

Or the employee may find it helpful to phone up one or more people to practise their speech technique in advance of a work situation. This might be a friend, or it might be a 'buddy', 'coach' or fellow participant on a course they have been on such as City Lit, the McGuire Programme or Starfish Project.

Open plan offices

Apart from the more general telephone adjustments above, some people who stammer find it particularly difficult speaking on the phone if work colleagues can overhear. Ideas that may help include:

Open plan offices: Separate room for phone calls

Making available a room for telephone calls, so that a person who stammers can be alone when on the telephone. If facilities for this are limited, the person who stammers might be allowed to use the boss's office if s/he is out.

Open plan offices: More isolated part of office

The person who stammers might be given a relatively isolated part of an open plan office, such as a corner (if he or she wants that). One reason this may help is that fewer colleagues can hear him on the phone. Another person who stammers found it a problem sometimes to have noises etc behind him, and asked to be moved to a desk with a wall behind, as he felt that would benefit him whilst talking on the telephone.

There may also be potential disadvantages to be considered with this type of position: see If your desk is moved into the corner, you're in trouble, my friend (link to Evening Standard, 12/7/10)

A related case on hot-desking (below) is Roberts v North West Ambulance Service (2012). There the employee, who had social anxiety order, wanted to sit in a less prominent location. The practical difficulties which arose in that case should not be relevant where people keep to the same desk.

Open plan offices: Phone calls in quieter time

There may be a quieter time of day when the person would find it easier to make phone calls.

Open plan offices: Hot desking

Where hot desking is used, so that people can sit anywhere in the office, the person who stammers may find it helpful to be able to stick to a particular chair/desk that they are familiar with, so far as possible.

A case which considered hot-desking as a possible reasonable adjustment is Roberts v North West Ambulance Service (2012).

Open plan offices: Own office

Naturally an adjustment of being given one's own office may be helpful in making phone calls, as discussed above.

Also for some people who stammer an open plan office may trigger social anxiety. For an example of this, see case study of being given own small office.

In one court case, which related to a voice impairment other than stammering, the complainant had objected to the adverse effect on her voice of increased noise from a partition being taken down between her office and the stock control room. The case was settled out of court after the claimant won an appeal on the issue of her being disabled. See £125,000 for Woman In Settlement Of Landmark Discrimination Case (link to equalityni.org). My page on the case is SCA Packaging v Boyle.

Meetings

Meetings: Discuss adjustments in advance

It is often a good idea for the chair of the meeting to ask the person who stammers in advance what would help them.

Meetings: Introducing oneself

Saying one's name when people go round the table introducing themselves can be a particular problem for someone who stammers. It is best for the chair to discuss with the person in advance how to handle this.

One possible solution is for the person who stammers to go first - so they have less time to build up anxiety.

Name badges may avoid people having to introduce themselves - but these are not sufficient if visually impaired people are present.

Meetings: Difficulty getting into a discussion

A person who stammers may find it difficult to break in and speak at meetings. Again it is a good idea for the chair to discuss in advance with the person who stammers what would help. Examples are:

He could be asked what his views are. See example in Telling your managing director about stammering (link to BSA website) - 2nd paragraph from end;

An agreed signal might be used to let the chair know that the employee wants say something. It is best not to leave the employee waiting, but to allow them to make their point as quickly as possible without artificially interrupting the flow of discussion;

It could be agreed in advance with the employee at what point they may want to come into a discussion;

It may be reasonable for the chair to accommodate contributions to discussions that may be given at slightly inappropriate times or that interrupt the flow of discussion. The employee who stammers may have been trying for some time make the contribution.

For many of these points I am indebted to Working with students who stammer (pdf on archive of De Montfort University website), about how lecturers can support students who stammer.

Meetings: Distributing written material

One person who stammers writes that he has had positive experiences with using the following adjustment:

"Typically meetings are pre-arranged events, with agendas and responsible officers for items. For these situations I typically prepare written notes on my items which are emailed to attendees prior to the date. For example, last week I pre-prepared a 'discussion paper' on a topic, with background information and specific decisions to be made. This enabled a large amount of information to be made available in writing, including specific questions to address, which otherwise may have proven very difficult to deliver orally - simply by making a minor adjustment to arrangements." (February 2009)

Some speech might be needed in addition but, even if it is, the adjustment can substantially cut down the amount that needs to be communicated orally.

Meetings: Extra time

Extra time may need to be allowed for meetings.

Disciplinary and grievance procedures

See below.

Presentations (in the job)

Support and preparation

The employer might ensure that the person who stammers has the support and preparation he needs to feel confident in the material.

Help from colleague

A person who stammers designed and ran a training session, and a colleague helped with the speaking under her direction. Feedback was very positive. See 'The reluctant campaigner' (link to BSA website), Summer 2006

Powerpoint

The presenter might put much of the information on Powerpoint slides so that pressure is taken off communicating the information orally. This may make speech easier. To this end, information on the Powerpoint slides might be fuller than normal.

Distributing material in advance

See also above: Distributing written material, as regards the possibility of distributing material in advance.

Text-to-speech

Text-to-speech technology can be used (and could be combined with Powerpoint). TTS software and its possible use by a person who stammers for workplace presentations was considered by the tribunal to some extent in Y v Bradford Council. See also Use of technology above.

Oral discussion

Where some oral interaction is required, options to reduce the need to speak (as described above) could still be used as far as possible, e.g. to get the main information and issues over, and could be followed by oral discussion if required. (The EAT has commented that writing, as opposed to oral communication, is not necessarily sufficient to persuade and influence people - see HM Land Registry v Wakefield. Each case will depend on the facts.)

Getting practice

Toastmasters, the Association of Speakers Clubs, and Speaking Circles may help people who stammer (and anyone) become more comfortable and skilled in making presentations - see on BSA website Public Speaking / Presentations.

More examples

Possible adjustments to presentations - albeit in a higher education context - are discussed in Working with students who stammer (pdf, external link) on the De Montfort University website.

See separate page for Presentations in recruitment process.

Staff courses

Possible adjustments to seminars and presentations are discussed in Working with students who stammer (pdf, external link) on the De Montfort University website.

Examples of adjustments made by the employer in Alderson v Walkers Snack Foods were:

In Alderson the employee argued that he should not have been required to give comments on issues arising from the role play. This could be another reasonable adjustment. However, on the facts of that case the tribunal found there was no discrimination (see heading 'Role play' in summary of judgment).

Of course, the employer may also wish to build the person's self-confidence as part of his or her professional and personal development.

Where the course practises what must be done in the job itself, an adjustment may perhaps not be reasonable except so far as it would be reasonable to make it on the job itself. Even here though, there is the issue of how best to train the person for the job role in the light of the stammer - there may be adjustments which would be helpful initially which could later fall away.

It might be appropriate for a person who stammers to practise something one to one, or in a small group of people he is comfortable with, rather than in front of a larger group.

Speech therapy and self-help

See separate page on Reasonable adjustments: Speech therapy and self-help for issues such as

Training or mentoring

The employee might be sent on a training course in, say, communication skills or telephone skills. See also speech therapy above.

Providers of training courses specifically aimed at those who stammer include Talkcoach (external link) and City Lit (external link). Talkcoach courses are intended to be paid for by the employer, and of course City Lit courses may be as well.

Arranging appropriate mentoring to support the employee is another possibility.

The Employment Code para 6.33 gives as an example of a possible reasonable adjustment: "Giving, or arranging for, training or mentoring (whether for the disabled person or any other worker)."

Allocating some duties to another person

As regards stammering, see above for the example of phone calls.

"Allocating some of the disabled person’s duties to another worker" is given in the Employment Code para 6.33 as a possible example of a reasonable adjustment. There are examples of reallocating duties in para 6.33 and para 17.87.

An employer reallocates minor or subsidiary duties to another worker as a disabled worker has difficulty doing them because of his disability. For example, the job involves occasionally going onto the open roof of a building but the employer transfers this work away from a worker whose disability involves severe vertigo.
Employment Code, para 6.33

The duties re-allocated need not necessarily be minor or subsidiary - the test is whether, in the circumstances, the re-allocation is a reasonable step to have to take (Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police v Jelic (2010)). Reallocation of duties may, depending their magnitude, shade into Transfer to another job.

Transfer to another job

This could be relevant if, for example, a person's stammer become more severe or the oral demands of a job increase.

An employer should consider whether a suitable alternative post is available for a worker who becomes disabled (or whose disability worsens), where no reasonable adjustment would enable the worker to continue doing the current job. Such a post might also involve retraining or other reasonable adjustments such as equipment for the new post or transfer to a position on a higher grade.
Employment Code, para 6.33

The House of Lords has confirmed that transfer to another job can be a reasonable adjustment:

Archibald v Fife Council, 2004, House of Lords
The House of Lords confirmed that transfer to another job might be required as a reasonable adjustment. It said that the obligation on the employer could include (if reasonable) waiving a requirement for competitive interviews where the employer normally required these, such as where the transfer would be to a higher grade job. Also a transfer could be upwards, as well as sideways or downwards.

Wade v Sheffield Hallam University (link to bailii.org) 2013, Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT)
The claimant's post was deleted on a reorganisation. The EAT rejected her claim that it was a breach of the reasonable adjustment duty for her employer to require her to through a competitive interview process, rather than automatically appoint her to the new role. On the facts of this case there was no breach because the claimant could not meet the essential criteria necessary for the role.

Reasonable adjustments on redeployment of a person whose mental impairment included stuttering were considered in Heatherwood & Wrexham Park Hospitals Trust v Beer (June 2006).

A disabled person may be 'competing' with other staff requiring redeployment, and the tribunal will consider whether adequate priority has been given to redeploying the disabled person:

Kent County Council v Mingo (link to thompsons.law.co.uk) [2000] Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT)
The claimant was unable to continue in his role after he injured his back. Under the Council's redeployment policy, staff who were redundant or potentially redundant (category A staff) were given priority over those requiring redeployment due to incapbility/ill health (category B staff). This resulted in the claimant not being redeployed. The EAT upheld the tribunal's decision that this was a breach of the duty to make reasonable adjustments.

There need not necessarily be an existing vacancy:

Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police v Jelic 2010,
The Employment Appeal Tribunal held that swapping jobs with another police officer, or medically retiring an officer and immediately re-employing him in a civilian support staff role, were capable of being reasonable adjustments. What mattered was what would be reasonable in the circumstances.

Possibly a variation on this is a newspaper report (January 2009) that a police officer's probationary period had been extended to (so far) five years after he repeatedly failed passing-out exams because of difficulty talking. He was working in an admin job.

Leeds Teaching Hospital NHS Trust v Foster (link to bailii.org) EAT, 2011
Putting someone on a redeployment register to see if suitable alternative employment was available was held to be a reasonable adjustment, and there only had to be a prospect of him being redeployed (it was not necessary that there be a good or real prospect).

Not transferring to another job?

In some cases the person who stammers may not wish to move to another role which the employer wants him to take on, because he feels the stammer will give difficulties. (Sometimes a move could be a breach of contract anyway, unless the employee agrees.)

A United States police officer was working as a detective. He felt the stuttering actually helped by disarming some suspects into confessing. The Police Department was moving him to road patrol, which he considered would endanger his life and others due to his stutter. (Rather than 'reasonable accommodation' the claim in this particular case may have been that the reason for the move was connected with the stutter.)
Stuttering Monroe Cop Fights Reassignment (link to wlwt.com) - article and video, 15/6/11.

Dismissals

See Reasonable adjustment rules: Dismissals, below on disciplinary procedures, and any other reasonable adjustments for the job on this page (including transfer to another job) which should be considered.

Assessment or appraisals

The Employment Code at para 6.33 includes as an example of a possible reasonable adjustment "Modifying procedures for assessment or appraisals". There is discussion on this above in the context of recruitment.

Disciplinary and grievance procedures

See Grievance, disciplinary and other procedures: Reasonable adjustments.

Disability awareness training

It is likely to be reasonable to include speech disorders such as stammering in disability awareness training for staff, for example how to communicate with someone who stammers. Training may also aim to reduce risk of harassment.

The Employment Code para 6.33 gives as an example of a possible reasonable adjustment: "Giving, or arranging for, training or mentoring (whether for the disabled person or any other worker)." The most obvious type of training for "other workers" is disability awareness training.

Other sources

Other sources on reasonable adjustments for people who stammer are the

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