Author: Aoife Doyle, Diversity and Inclusion Advisor, Bank of England
A tool to help employees with disabilities and long-term health conditions ensure they have appropriate support at work.
If an employee has a disability or long-term health condition, they will often need appropriate support and adjustments in place at work. Whilst there are legal obligations to provide this support effectively, it’s also important for ensuring that colleagues with disabilities have the equipment and support they need to perform their job well. There can be significant work involved in getting the appropriate support in place.
At the Bank of England, we have been keen to provide this support as effectively as possible and we invest significant resources in this. One difficulty with this is, in a large organisation such as the Bank, it is common for employees to move roles and into another department or get a new line manager from time to time. We received feedback from employees that it was stressful to have to raise or explain adjustments each time they had a new line manager and it was often a barrier in deciding whether to apply for a new role. In response to this, the Bank introduced a ‘disability passport’ – now known as “workplace adjustments passport” - for staff. This was something other organisations had introduced and found beneficial in ensuring consistent support to colleagues with disabilities and health conditions.
The passport is a document where an employee can record any support they need to due to a disability or long term health condition and what has been agreed with their line manager in relation to implementing this support. The passport will provide some clarity and continuity on what has been agreed and ensure managers understand the issues and can support their staff member effectively.
Subsequently, if an employee has a new manager they can show them their passport so the new manager is clear what arrangements are already agreed and in place. Similarly, if an employee moves to another area of the Bank, they can show the new line manager their passport and can agree how the adjustments will be implemented in the new work setting. We find it is a useful tool for having productive conversations.
Some key points in the scheme are:
- The employee owns the passport. They decide whether a copy is kept on their staff record or shared with their manager. The Bank’s HR system has a facility for staff to record if they have a passport and upload a copy for their own reference.
- It is a live document, it is recognised that an individual’s needs may change over time and the document should be reviewed from time to time. The form often sets out intervals at which to review the arrangements.
- The passport covers disabilities and health conditions, it includes both physical and mental health.
- No medical information is recorded unless the employee feels it will be helpful; the form only records the details of the workplace adjustments and the ongoing evaluation, if relevant.
- It can be completed on joining the Bank, when an employee develops a disability or health condition during their time at the Bank and sometimes an Occupational health adviser will recommend an employee complete one.
The adjustments in each case can be quite varied and depend on the nature of physical or mental ill-health and what the Bank can reasonably undertake. Some examples of workplace adjustments are:
- additional equipment or specialist assistive software for staff with visual or hearing impairments;
- alternative working arrangements including some home-working arrangements for staff who have difficulty travelling to the office because of mobility restrictions or fatigue issues;
- adjustments to job objectives if a job holder is at a disadvantage in performing the full range of activities;
- changes to working hours to accommodate staff on medication;
- Provision of sign language support;
- Specialist ergonomic equipment
Many cases involve a combination of these adjustments. The form can also detail the sort of difficulties the employee has on a good day and the difficulties on a bad day and what the manager should do if they have concerns about an employee’s health.
When we introduced the scheme, engaging with key stakeholders such as occupational health was really important. When they understood the scheme and how to use the passport, they could promote it to employees under their care. Feedback from staff and managers has been extremely positive. Promotion of the passport and its benefits has been an ongoing task, we need to maintain awareness within in the business. We subsequently extended the passport concept to include colleagues with caring responsibilities, to help ease the conversations around the adjustments they needed to balance work with caring commitments.
This article was written by Aoife Doyle, Diversity and Inclusion Advisor, Bank of England on behalf of the Inclusion & Diversity Committee.