Here at the Co-op we want to ensure that colleagues who have a disability are treated fairly and have access to the same opportunities as non-disabled colleagues.

Crucial bits

Most importantly, you’ll never suffer any disadvantage from telling us you’ve got a disability, so talk to your manager to make sure you get the support you need. We’ll always treat this information sensitively and confidentially.

Legal info

If you’ve got a disability you’re protected against discrimination at work under the Equality Act 2010. Under the law the term ‘disability’ can include conditions which you might not necessarily think of as a disability – like diabetes, asthma, back problems and depression.

If you’ve got a physical or mental condition that has lasted, or is expected to last, for 12 months or more, or for the rest of your life, and it has a significant negative effect on your ability to do day to day activities, you’re protected by the law. And it doesn’t matter whether you’re on medication or have a medical aid that controls the effects of your condition – you’ll still be covered. Some conditions, such as cancer, multiple sclerosis (MS) and HIV, are automatically covered from day one.

If you’re disabled, under the Equality Act 2010 we’ve got a responsibility to make reasonable adjustments to your role or working environment to remove any barriers that get in the way of you doing your job. In the recruitment process we also have a duty to make any reasonable adjustments you need to remove any disadvantage you may have in the process compared with non-disabled applicants.

How we can make adjustments

We can make reasonable adjustments in three ways:

  • By making changes to your working arrangements - for example, agreeing for you to work part-time if your disability means you get tired easily, or making adjustments to absence triggers
  • By making changes to the physical features of a building – for example, putting in a ramp for wheelchair access
  • By providing extra equipment, technology or services – such as voice-activated software if you’ve got a visual impairment

What’s reasonable?

To decide whether an adjustment is “reasonable”, your manager must consider:

  • How effective the adjustment would be in removing the disadvantage
  • How practical the adjustment would be to implement
  • How much disruption it would cause to make the adjustment, including the effect on your colleagues
  • Whether the adjustment would create any health and safety risks
  • How expensive the adjustment would be to make

Your manager will get advice from ER Services about making any reasonable adjustments.

Things to think about

Are reasonable adjustments needed?

You don’t have to tell us about any medical conditions you have – but we can only help make adjustments if we know they’re needed, so we really encourage you to be open with your manager.

If your manager notices that you’re having problems at work, they’ll talk to you to understand if there are any underlying health issues and then see if any changes need to be made.

If you’re struggling at work because of a health condition and your manager hasn’t discussed it with you yet - even if you don’t think it would be classed as a disability – you should talk to them about the support and any adjustments you feel you need.

If you’re absent from work due to an ongoing health issue, we’ll talk to you about reasonable adjustments as part of the absence process to see if there’s anything we can do to help you get back into work.

If you can’t carry on in your current job because of your disability, a possible reasonable adjustment might be redeployment. There’s more information about this in the Disability Redeployment Policy.

If you’re applying for another job within the Co-op, make sure you tick the relevant boxes on the Internal Careers Portal to tell us that you’ve got a disability and if you need any adjustments making to the selection process. If you’re successful in getting the job, your new manager will talk to you about what, if any, adjustments you need to help you do the role.

Identifying and making reasonable adjustments

Sometimes it’ll be clear what reasonable adjustments are needed, but other times we might need to get an Occupational Health assessment, or ask for more information from your GP.

We’ve also got a Reasonable Adjustments Process so you can see the steps we’ll follow.

Different types of adjustments

There are lots of different adjustments that we can make to a job or working environment – appendix 1 lists some examples. Different people will need different adjustments, sometimes even for similar conditions, and you might need a combination of different adjustments. The case study in appendix 2 shows an example of how several different reasonable adjustments can be made.

We can agree adjustments on a temporary or a permanent basis, depending on your needs. For example, we might agree a phased return if you’re coming back to work after a long period of illness.

Costs of reasonable adjustments

Just so it’s clear, you won’t be asked to pay for any reasonable adjustments that need to be made. If there are any costs, these will be paid by your business area.

A government scheme called Access to Work can help with some of the costs of making reasonable adjustments and can also give advice on making adjustments. They give grants for things like:

  • special aids and equipment
  • modifying premises and adapting equipment
  • travel to and from work
  • communication support at interview
  • a wide variety of support workers

There’s no set amount for the support that Access to Work can offer - it will depend on the circumstances of each case. There’s more information about using the Access to Work service in the Reasonable Adjustments Process.

If you need further support

If you’ve got any questions about reasonable adjustments, you should speak to your manager.

You may need additional support, so remember we have an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) who can help. You can contact the EAP in confidence on 0800 069 8854.

If managers need advice they can contact ER Services. Our Occupational Health provider can also offer advice to managers on reasonable adjustments. See the Occupational Health Guide for more information.

The Co-op is a member of the Business Disability Forum and we can access a range of tools and guidance on disability on their website Specialist advisors are also available to answer managers queries – either on 020 7403 3020 or

Appendix 1 - Examples of reasonable adjustments

Here are some examples of reasonable adjustments we could make;

Changing working arrangements

  • Changing work patterns and hours - for example, starting later or having a flexible start time, or reducing hours of work
  • Allowing more frequent rest breaks if, for example, a colleague gets tired more easily or needs to go the toilet more frequently
  • Enabling working from home, or transferring to a location closer to home or which can better accommodate other adjustments
  • Giving time off work to attend appointments for medical treatment, including physiotherapy, counselling or rehabilitation
  • Making adjustments to the duties of the job - for example, removing manual handling or giving more time to carry out tasks
  • Agreeing a revised absence trigger for absences relating to a disability
  • Agreeing a phased return to work after a period of sickness absence
  • Agreeing for a support worker, friend or family member to attend an Absence Review/Performance Review/Disciplinary/Grievance Meeting with a colleague, where their condition means they need extra support
  • Agreeing for someone to use taxis for business travel if their condition means they can’t drive
  • Providing a car parking space close to the workplace for someone with mobility issues
  • Adjusting performance targets

Changing the physical features of a building

  • Widening a doorway or installing a ramp to make room for a wheelchair
  • Moving things like door handles if they are difficult to reach
  • Making changes to the till area, for example making space for a stool
  • Having new toilet facilities installed to improve accessibility

Providing extra equipment, technology or services

  • Providing a specialist chair, back support or a footstool
  • Providing additional training, coaching or mentoring
  • Having documents produced in Braille
  • Providing assistive technology, such as voice-activated software or ‘mind mapping’ software
  • Providing a sign language interpreter for someone who has a hearing impairment
  • Providing help with transport to and from work

Appendix 2 – Case study

Jane is a Customer Team Member in one of our Food stores. Jane was asked to complete some online training but she found it difficult and kept failing the modules. Her manager was concerned about this, so he contacted ER Services for advice. They suggested to refer Jane for an Occupational Health assessment to see if she had any underlying health issues that could be causing this. Jane agreed to have the assessment.

The report from Occupational Health told us that Jane suffered from dyslexia. This was why she was struggling with reading the screen when doing the online training. Occupational Health recommended that Jane contact Access to Work so they could arrange to conduct an assessment of her needs.

Access to Work visited Jane in the store and, following their assessment, recommended that she have a coloured overlay for the screen which would improve the focus and make the words clearer. Access to Work agreed to provide some funding towards the cost of this as a reasonable adjustment.

With this overlay in place on the computer screen, Jane was not only able to successfully complete the training modules, it also made her job much easier any time she needed to do some work on the computer.