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Employees with a Disability Procedure

Procedure overview

1 Purpose

To support the right of Employees with a Disability to be involved in a work environment that is accessible, inclusive and free from discrimination and harassment, and outline the processes involved in seeking reasonable adjustments.

2 Scope

This procedure applies to all areas of Disability Discrimination as identified under the relevant Acts.

This procedure applies to all Employees of the University of Southern Queensland who are engaged in approved University-related activity. It also applies to applicants for vacant positions at the University, volunteer workers and any other person whose workplace health and safety might be affected by the business activities of the University (for example contractors and consultants engaged by the University).

3 Procedure Overview

This procedure aims, as far as possible, to:

  • eliminate Disability Discrimination
  • ensure that Employees with disabilities have the same rights as the rest of the community
  • promote recognition and acceptance of these rights within the campus community
  • identify and support the Reasonable Adjustment needs of Employees with a Disability through effective, open communication with all stakeholders.

4 Procedures

The University is committed to the principles of equality of opportunity for Employees in all aspects of its operations and strongly supports the continued inclusion of Employees with disabilities in all aspects of the University community.

The University acknowledges that it has a responsibility to conduct its operations in ways that do not disadvantage people with a Disability as described under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 and the Disability Services Act 2006 (Qld).

To achieve this commitment, the University will:

  • promote and foster an environment which encourages positive, informed and unprejudiced attitudes towards Employees with a Disability
  • ensure that requests for Reasonable Adjustments for Employees with disabilities are considered fairly, completed as soon as practicable and are appropriately monitored and reviewed
  • ensure that positive and practical steps are undertaken to enable people with a Disability to seek employment within the University, and that barriers to access are identified and removed
  • enable all Employees to have equal opportunity when being considered for selection, appointment, promotion, training or other employment opportunities
  • ensure that the needs of Employees with a Disability are met in relation to the physical environment of each campus, including buildings, facilities, grounds and information technology systems.

4.1 Disclosure of a Disability by an Employee

The University acknowledges that information provided about an Employee's Disability or health status is personal and private and will respect the confidentiality of all such information in accordance with the Privacy Policy.

4.2 Reasonable Adjustment

The principle of Reasonable Adjustment allows that wherever it is possible, and necessary and reasonable to do so, employers must take into account an Employee's Disability and make appropriate adjustments to the work environment to enable an Employee to perform effectively and to the best of their ability. An adjustment is reasonable if it successfully balances the interests of all parties affected.

Reasonable Adjustments for Employees are measures taken by the University to ensure that all Employees have equal opportunity to participate in all aspects of workplace life, including the following:

  • recruitment processes
  • performance of duties
  • access to employment benefits and conditions
  • performance management
  • access to professional and career development
  • physical access to building and facilities
  • access to information.

Workplace adjustments are changes introduced into the workplace that take account of an Employee's Disability so that they can use their skills effectively and access the same benefits, terms or conditions of employment as other Employees.

Adjustments may include:

  • provision of appropriate equipment or assistance to ensure there is no barrier in the selection process
  • job redesign
  • changes to work practices
  • training or retraining
  • providing essential information in suitable formats
  • modification to equipment or the support of specialised equipment, furniture or work related aids
  • short term or interim strategies (e.g. car parking permits or office relocation to enable physical access to workplace and support for performance of duties)
  • flexible work arrangements
  • alterations to premises or work areas.

Both prospective and current Employees with a Disability in all modes of employment (e.g. continuing, fixed term, casual, voluntary) are eligible for Reasonable Adjustments in order to perform the Inherent Requirements of their job. Workplace adjustments will be made within a reasonable time and after notification of the need for adjustments.

The Disability Discrimination Act 1992 does not require that workplace changes be made if this will cause major difficulties or unreasonable costs to a person or to the organisation. Before claiming that adjustments are unjustified, the University must:

  • thoroughly consider how an adjustment might be made
  • discuss this directly with the Employee involved
  • consult relevant sources of advice.

Employees and Supervisors seeking a workplace adjustment should initially consult with Human Resources.

4.2.1 Exemptions under the legislation

The following are identified under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 as exemptions to the requirement for the provision of all necessary measures and Reasonable Adjustments for persons with a Disability:

  • where provision of adjustments or measures would impose Unjustifiable Hardship on the University
  • where, even with the provision of all appropriate adjustments, the Employee is unable to fulfil the Inherent Requirements of the position
  • where an Employee with a Disability has an infectious disease or other condition that requires isolation or discrimination in order to protect their health and welfare or the health and welfare of others, and where the University is unable to provide Reasonable Adjustments that will enable the Employee to receive relevant services and facilities so that they may continue with their employment
  • where, even with the provision of all appropriate adjustments, it is not possible to meet occupational health and safety requirements.

Unjustifiable Hardship as described by the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 provides that, for the purposes of the Act, in determining what constitutes Unjustifiable Hardship, all relevant circumstances of the particular case are to be taken into account including:

  • the nature of the benefit or detriment likely to accrue or be suffered by a person concerned
  • the effect of the Disability of a person concerned
  • the financial circumstances and the estimated amount of expenditure required to be made by the person claiming Unjustifiable Hardship
  • in the case of provision of services or the making available of facilities, an action plan given to the Australian Human Rights Commission under Section 64 of the Act.

4.2.2 Accessing assistance

An Employee who believes that they may require assistance should in the first instance speak with their Supervisor.

Employees must provide reasonable notice of the need for adjustment and the necessary documentary evidence to support this request. Evidence may be provided by appropriately qualified health professionals.

If necessary, Human Resources will arrange for professional advice to assist in assessing the Employee's needs. This advice will specify:

  • the nature of the Disability or disabilities
  • the functional limitations placed on the Employee by this Disability
  • whether the Disability is likely to improve or worsen in time and may require review
  • the workplace adjustments necessary to assist the Employee in dealing with their Disability.

In assessing the assistance required, the Inherent Requirements of the position are considered.

Consultation will occur between the Employee, the Employee's Supervisor and Human Resources (for advice).

The Employee will be advised by their Supervisor of the outcomes of their request for assistance and adjustment.

4.2.3 Responsibility for adjustments

The implementation of this procedure is the responsibility of all Employees of the University. However some areas of the University community have specific responsibilities:

  • The Employee's work unit is responsible for the cost of implementing work environment adjustments relating to information technology and systems, personal aids, special furniture and minor works. The relevant Category 4 Delegate or above with appropriate financial delegation will be responsible for considering and approving such requests.
  • Campus Services is responsible for funding and implementing capital works relating to physical access to building and facilities.

4.3 Managing Complaints

An Employee who has been refused a Reasonable Adjustment will in the first instance be advised verbally by their Supervisor. The Supervisor will discuss the reasons why and then provide written confirmation of the refusal and the reasons why this Decision was made.

An Employee who is not satisfied with the Decision and explanation from their Supervisor can refer the matter to the Staff Support and Equity Advisor for review.

Employee Complaint processes in the Discrimination, Bullying and Harassment Complaints against Employees Procedure can be initiated if the Employee believes the Decision is discriminatory.

Complaints of discrimination and harassment will be treated seriously by the University and will be managed promptly in a thorough and confidential manner. The principles of natural justice will apply and will guide the application of this procedure.

5 Delegated responsibilities

Approver

Level of Delegation

Relevant Financial Delegate

Approval of funding for Reasonable Adjustments, within delegated financial limits.

6 References

Nil.

7 Schedules

This procedure must be read in conjunction with its subordinate schedules as provided in the table below.

8 Procedure Information

Subordinate Schedules

Accountable Officer

Executive Director (Finance and People Capability)

Policy Type

University Procedure

Approved Date

15/1/2016

Effective Date

15/1/2016

Review Date

21/1/2018

Relevant Legislation

Anti-Discrimination Act 1991

Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986

Disability (Access to Premises - Buildings) Standards 2010

Disability Discrimination Act 1992

Disability Services Act 2006 (Qld)

Equal Opportunity (Commonwealth Authorities) Act 1987

Fair Work Act 2009

Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Qld)

Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 (Qld)

Related Policies

Code of Conduct Policy

Employee Complaints and Grievances Policy

Employee Equity and Diversity Policy

Privacy Policy

Students with a Disability Policy and Procedure

Related Procedures

Disciplinary Action for Misconduct or Serious Misconduct Procedure

Discrimination, Bullying and Harassment Complaints against Employees Procedure

Prevention of Discrimination, Bullying and Harassment Procedure

Related forms, publications and websites

Australian Human Rights Commission

Communicating with People with a Disability

Human Resources Website

Job Access - Being Flexible and Making Adjustments

Supporting Employees with a disability checklist

Workplace Modification Assessments Operational flowchart

Definitions

Terms defined in the Definitions Dictionary

Complaint

An expression of dissatisfaction made in relation to an action, Decision or omission within the responsibility and control of the University, a University Member or a Student, where a response or resolution process is expected wherever possible....moreAn expression of dissatisfaction made in relation to an action, Decision or omission within the responsibility and control of the University, a University Member or a Student, where a response or resolution process is expected wherever possible.

Decision

A determination made by an Employee, contractor or other authorised delegate in the course of their duties on behalf of the University....moreA determination made by an Employee, contractor or other authorised delegate in the course of their duties on behalf of the University.

Employee

A person employed by the University and whose conditions of employment are covered by the USQ Enterprise Agreement and includes persons employed on a continuing, fixed term or casual basis. Employees also include senior Employees whose conditions of employment are covered by a written agreement or contract with the University....moreA person employed by the University and whose conditions of employment are covered by the USQ Enterprise Agreement and includes persons employed on a continuing, fixed term or casual basis. Employees also include senior Employees whose conditions of employment are covered by a written agreement or contract with the University.

University

The term 'University' or 'USQ' means the University of Southern Queensland....moreThe term 'University' or 'USQ' means the University of Southern Queensland.

Definitions that relate to this procedure only

Disability

The Disability Discrimination Act 1992 defines Disability, in relation to a person, as:

  • total or partial loss of the person's bodily or mental functions
  • total or partial loss of a part of the body
  • the presence in the body of organisms causing disease or illness
  • the presence in the body of organisms capable of causing disease or illness
  • the malfunction, malformation or disfigurement of a part of a person's body
  • a disorder or malfunction that results in the person learning differently from a person without the disorder or malfunction
  • a disorder, illness or disease that affects a person's thought processes, perceptions of reality, emotions or judgement or that results in disturbed behaviour.

The definition refers to a disability that presently exists, previously existed but no longer exists, or may exist in the future. A Disability is defined by the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 to include:

  • physical
  • intellectual
  • psychiatric
  • sensory
  • neurological
  • learning disabilities
  • physical disfigurement
  • the presence in the body of disease-causing organisms.

The Act covers a Disability which people have now, have had in the past, may have in the future, or are believed to have.

Impairment

Impairment is defined in the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 as:

  • the total or partial loss of the person's bodily functions, including the loss of a part of the person's body
  • the malfunction, malformation or disfigurement of a part of the person's body
  • a condition or malfunction that results in the person learning more slowly than a person without the condition or malfunction
  • a condition, illness or disease that impairs a person's thought processes, perception of reality, emotions or judgement or that results in disturbed behaviour
  • the presence in the body of organisms capable of causing illness or disease
  • reliance on a guide dog, wheelchair or other remedial device; whether or not arising from an illness, disease or injury or from a condition subsisting at birth.

The definition includes an Impairment that presently exists or previously existed but no longer exists.

Disability Discrimination

The Disability Discrimination Act 1992 makes it unlawful to discriminate against a person because of their Disability. This includes people who are relatives, friends, and carers of people with a Disability.

Direct Disability Discrimination occurs when a person with a Disability is treated less favourably than a person without a Disability would be treated in the same or similar circumstances.

Indirect Disability Discrimination occurs when there is a requirement, condition or practice that is the same for everyone but has an unfair effect on a particular group of people. Defences to claims of unlawful discrimination include assessments of Inherent Requirements and Unjustifiable Hardship.

Disability Harassment

Disability Harassment occurs when someone is made to feel intimidated, insulted or humiliated because of their Disability as specified under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992.

Inherent Requirements

Inherent Requirements are the fundamental, essential elements to the performance of the role and tasks of the position. The University considers whether the person could perform these requirements if some Reasonable Adjustment is made, including adjustments to facilities, equipment, work or study practices or training.

Reasonable Adjustments

Reasonable Adjustments are measures which an employer implements to enable the Employee with a Disability undertake the Inherent Requirements of the position or to undertake the Inherent Requirements of their training or professional development.

Supervisor

Any person responsible for leading the activities of others. In the context of this procedure, a Supervisor includes Employees at any classification level or title who have responsibilities for leading, managing or supervising work teams and/or individual Employees.

Universal Design Principles

Universal Design Principles is an approach towards enabling services and environments to be usable by as many people as possible regardless of age, ability or circumstance. The seven principles for universal access are: fairness, flexibility, logical, understandable, toleration of differences, straightforward in use and physical accessibility.

Unjustifiable Hardship

Unjustifiable Hardship is a defence to a claim of discrimination on the grounds of Disability. It requires the University to consider all relevant circumstances of a particular situation before making a Decision in the employment of a person with a Disability. It includes considering the following:

  • nature of the benefit or detriment likely to accrue or be suffered by any persons concerned
  • effect of a Disability of the person concerned
  • options there are to meet the requirements of the person with a Disability
  • financial circumstances and the estimated expenditure by the University
  • the University's Disability Action Plan.

Keywords

Disability, reasonable adjustment, impairment, inherent job requirements, accessibility

Record No

13/877PL

Failure to comply with this Policy or Policy Instrument may be considered as misconduct and the provisions of the relevant Policy or Procedure applied.

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