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 Human Rights Commission Queensland or 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 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 Human Resources 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 (Human Resources)

Responsible Officer

Executive Director (Human Resources)

Policy Type

University Procedure

Approved Date

12/12/2018

Effective Date

3/4/2019

Review Date

3/4/2022

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

Human Rights Act 2019

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

A Complaint is an “expression of dissatisfaction made to or about the University, related to its products, services, staff or the handling of a complaint, where a response or resolution is explicitly or implicitly expected or legally required”....moreA Complaint is an “expression of dissatisfaction made to or about the University, related to its products, services, staff or the handling of a complaint, where a response or resolution is explicitly or implicitly expected or legally required”.

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.

Delegate (noun)

Delegate (noun) means the officer, Employee or committee of the University to whom, or to which, a delegation of authority has been made under this Policy....moreDelegate (noun) means the officer, Employee or committee of the University to whom, or to which, a delegation of authority has been made under this Policy.

Delegation

A formal authority or power granted to Council members, Employees and Council committees to make Decisions on behalf of the University....moreA formal authority or power granted to Council members, Employees and Council committees to make Decisions on behalf of the University.

Discrimination

Occurs when a person or a group of people are treated less favourably than another person or group because of race, colour, national or ethnic origin; gender or marital status; disability; religion or political beliefs; sexual preference; or some other central characteristic. Discrimination may occur when a person is denied the opportunity to participate freely and fully in normal day-...moreOccurs when a person or a group of people are treated less favourably than another person or group because of race, colour, national or ethnic origin; gender or marital status; disability; religion or political beliefs; sexual preference; or some other central characteristic. Discrimination may occur when a person is denied the opportunity to participate freely and fully in normal day-to-day activities, for example being harassed in the workplace or being denied entry to public places and other facilities.

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.

Expenditure

Decreases in economic benefits during the Reporting Period in the form of outflows or depletions of Assets or incurrences of liabilities that result in decreases in equity. This encompasses losses as well as expenses that arise in the ordinary course of business....moreDecreases in economic benefits during the Reporting Period in the form of outflows or depletions of Assets or incurrences of liabilities that result in decreases in equity. This encompasses losses as well as expenses that arise in the ordinary course of business.

Harassment

Occurs when a person is made to feel intimidated, insulted or humiliated because of their race, colour, national or ethnic origin; sex; disability; sexual preference; or some other characteristic specified under anti-discrimination or human rights legislation. Harassment may include behaviour, comments or images which a reasonable person would consider to be offensive, humiliating, int...moreOccurs when a person is made to feel intimidated, insulted or humiliated because of their race, colour, national or ethnic origin; sex; disability; sexual preference; or some other characteristic specified under anti-discrimination or human rights legislation. Harassment may include behaviour, comments or images which a reasonable person would consider to be offensive, humiliating, intimidating or threatening.

Information

Any collection of data that is processed, analysed, interpreted, organised, classified or communicated in order to serve a useful purpose, present facts or represent knowledge in any medium or form. This includes presentation in electronic (digital), print, audio, video, image, graphical, cartographic, physical sample, textual or numerical form....moreAny collection of data that is processed, analysed, interpreted, organised, classified or communicated in order to serve a useful purpose, present facts or represent knowledge in any medium or form. This includes presentation in electronic (digital), print, audio, video, image, graphical, cartographic, physical sample, textual or numerical form.

Notice

A Notice from the University is a document, whether physical or electronic. A Notice may be: given by hand to the addressee or delivered to the address provided by the addressee to the University; or sent by registered or pre-paid mail to the address provided by the addressee to the University; or sent by electronic communication to the University-issued email account provided by the Unive...moreA Notice from the University is a document, whether physical or electronic. A Notice may be: given by hand to the addressee or delivered to the address provided by the addressee to the University; or sent by registered or pre-paid mail to the address provided by the addressee to the University; or sent by electronic communication to the University-issued email account provided by the University to a Student during the period of Enrolment until the completion of their program; or sent by electronic communication to the email address provided to the University by an addressee not enrolled at the University. A Notice is taken to be received if: given by hand to the addressee or delivered to the address provided to the University by the addressee; or sent by registered or pre-paid mail - three University Business Days after the date of posting; or sent by electronic communication - at the time that would be the time of receipt under the Electronic Transactions Act 1999 or its succeeding legislation. A Notice that would be deemed to have been received out of business hours or on a non-University Business Day will instead be deemed received on the next University Business Day.

Policy

A high level strategic directive that establishes a principle based approach on a subject. Policy is operationalised through Procedures that give instructions and set out processes to implement a Policy....moreA high level strategic directive that establishes a principle based approach on a subject. Policy is operationalised through Procedures that give instructions and set out processes to implement a Policy.

Procedure

An operational instruction that sets out the process to operationalise a Policy....moreAn operational instruction that sets out the process to operationalise a Policy.

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

Complying with the law and observing Policy and Procedure is a condition of working and/or studying at the University.

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