Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion

Reasonable accommodation for people with disabilities

What is reasonable accommodation?

Reasonable accommodation is any change to a job or a work environment that is needed to enable a person with a disability to apply, to perform and to advance in job functions, or undertake training.

Reasonable accommodation is aimed at any employee with a disability. The right to reasonable accommodation extends to all work-related activities covered by EU law, from the job application process through termination, and includes working conditions and fringe benefits. If you have a disability and believe you need adjustments to your job or workplace, you can request reasonable accommodation.

What the law says

Under the EU’s Employment Equality Directive, employers have to provide reasonable accommodation to employees with disabilities, to the extent that doing so would not impose a disproportionate burden to the organisation. This sets reasonable accommodation duties, which may include technical solutions like providing equipment.

Reasonable accommodation is also an obligation under Article 5 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), to which the EU and all its Member States are parties. The Convention defines reasonable accommodation as “necessary and appropriate modification and adjustments not imposing a disproportionate or undue burden, where needed in a particular case, to ensure to persons with disabilities the enjoyment or exercise on an equal basis with others of all human rights and fundamental freedoms.”

What accommodation can be offered?

The main types of reasonable accommodation include technical solutions, working arrangements, training measures and awareness raising measures.

The technical solutions might include:

  • installing elevators or ramps
  • putting office furniture at an appropriate height
  • installing computer screen magnifiers
  • providing Braille terminals
  • installing real time interpretation via telecommunications

Other cases of reasonable accommodation relate to

  • working arrangements, like providing flexible working hours, teleworking, leave, relocation to a new office or redeployment to a different job
  • training, like allowing it to be done orally rather than in writing
  • awareness raising measures so that people with disabilities can perform their job.

Who decides reasonable accommodation?

Decisions on whether a change is reasonable can only be made on a case-by-case basis. People seeking reasonable accommodation should first discuss their needs with their employer.

Professional expertise could also be sought from a multidisciplinary team. Rights groups for persons with disabilities, trade unions, or a national equality body could provide further advice and support.

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