Managing staff with disabilities

What should I do if a staff member raises their disability with me?

The University encourages staff to raise and discuss their disability with their manager to identify existing and potential issues and explore solutions to enable them to continue to succeed at work.

If a staff member approaches their manager and raises issues in relation to their disability, discussions should commence to determine their capacity to perform the inherent requirements of the job and any restrictions the staff member may be experiencing.

The University will undertake an assessment to determine the necessary measures and support required to ensure the staff member can succeed in the position and identify if any workplace adjustments are required.

Managers should consider the following:

  • Whether a medical certificate been supplied or a medical report
  • If the staff member is at work, ensure they are safe, fit to be at work and not putting themselves (or others) at risk
  • The staff members personal leave and annual leave entitlements
  • Monitor the situation closely and keep in touch with the staff member, particularly if a lengthy absence is involved.

What does the term ‘inherent requirements of the job’ mean?

Inherent requirements are the essential activities of the job including the core duties that must be carried out in order to fulfil the purpose of the role.

The essential duties of a role must be clearly defined before an assessment can be made about any reasonable adjustments.

What does the term ‘reasonable adjustments’ mean and how far do we go?

Reasonable adjustments refers to changes or accommodations that can be made to enable a staff member to perform the inherent requirements of the role.

Examples of reasonable adjustments include adjustments to work premises, equipment or facilities, adjusting work related communication or introducing appropriate software and/or introducing flexibility which may include changes to working hours.

Making reasonable adjustments requires the University to balance the need for change with the expense or effort involved in making the change.

What is a work support plan and why do we need one?

A work support plan can lead to higher emotional wellbeing for the staff member and enhance the chances of a successful transition back to work, leading to positive benefits for the university.

A work support plan outlines the accommodations to be made that will assist the staff member to return to full duties. The Plan usually contains:

  • evidence that a person is fit to return to work (eg a certificate from their GP)
  • a detailed description of the tasks to be undertaken
  • details of any modifications required to the workplace, the duties or work practices
  • timelines and actions required or agreed
  • a date for review
  • the rights and obligations of the parties involved.

How are expenses associated with reasonable adjustments funded?

Cost centre managers are responsible for ensuring funds are available to cover any costs associated with independent medical advice, workplace assessments and/or workplace adjustments.

Managers can apply to the Executive Director: People, Talent and Culture for additional funding. This additional funding comes from a budget managed by the Human Resources Unit.

What options are available to a staff member who is deemed unfit for work?

If medical reports state that a staff member is temporarily unable to work due to their disability, the following options should be discussed with them:

  • Personal leave
  • Annual leave
  • Temporary incapacity benefit (refer to Superannuation Officer)

Can I discuss the issue of disability in a performance management process?

If an issue of an underlying disability emerges while an employee is discussing performance management, take the opportunity to discuss any adjustments that may be required.

Ensure the performance management process remains fair and transparent by setting clear expectations and setting realistic goals and evaluating the staff member’s performance against the inherent requirements of the position.