Staff with disabilities

Why would I tell my manager about my disability?

The University recognises how sensitive the topic of disability can be for an individual to raise. However it is more difficult, if not impossible, for the University to consider providing appropriate support to an individual if it is not made aware of the need for it.

Current staff are encouraged to raise and discuss any issues in relation to their disability that could impact on their ability to work with their manager so that the necessary measures and support may be put in place to facilitate them carrying out the inherent requirements of the position.

Where a staff member's disability is affecting their ability to undertake the inherent requirements of the position, the University will undertake an assessment to determine if any workplace adjustments can be established to assist them to succeed in their position.

Prospective staff are encouraged to discuss their disability at the interview stage. All applicants will be measured against the selection criteria and assessed on their ability to meet the inherent requirements of the role. Inherent requirements are the genuine characteristics of a role which are essential to perform the job.

What are my responsibilities?

Staff have an ethical and common law duty of care to provide relevant information about their health status when this could impact upon their capacity to perform in the job and/or where the disability has the potential to place themselves, colleagues and/or students at risk.

Current staff with a disability, or those who may acquire a disability that is likely to impact on their work, should raise any issues associated with their disability and how it might impact on their work with their local manager to ensure the appropriate assessment of reasonable adjustments can be made. Staff are required to participate in the development and implementation of a confidential work support plan and of course to follow the direction of their medical practitioners which may include compliance with any relevant medical restrictions.

For prospective staff, it may be necessary to seek a workplace assessment to determine whether any reasonable adjustments are required. Reasonable adjustments and support will be identified and provided to staff to assist them to continue to succeed at work.

What are my rights?

Staff have a right to be treated fairly and participate in conversations about their capacity and/or any restrictions in their role.

The University will consider if any reasonable adjustments are required following a workplace assessment and will not make any decisions about a staff member's employment or changes to their employment without consulting with them first.

What is a Non Work Related Illness (NWRI)?

A non –work related illness or injury refers to situations where the illness or injury or medical condition:

  • Does not arise out of, or in the course of employment (i.e. is not work related or covered by Workers' Compensation Act)
  • Has the potential to inhibit a person's ability to fulfil the full requirements of their substantive role and responsibilities and/or the business needs
  • May require adjustments to a person's duties or the way in which the work is undertaken and/or
  • Has the potential to impact on health, safety and welfare of the staff member and/or other colleagues or students.

Irrespective of whether an individual considers their NWRI to be a disability, wherever possible the University will ensure reasonable adjustments are made to assist the person to remain or return to work as quickly as possible.

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 manager will work with the staff member to clearly define the job and identify the essential requirements before assessing what adjustments may be required and whether they are reasonable.

What does the term 'reasonable adjustment' mean?

A reasonable adjustment 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 as well as the impact it may have on other colleagues and or students in making the change.

What does the term 'unjustifiable hardship' mean?

This term refers to what level of impact the reasonable adjustments or changes would have on the individual, the University, colleagues and/or students. The University will consider what changes are required to assist the individual, together with considering any advantages/disadvantages for others including considering the costs involved in making the accommodations/adjustments and how affordable they would be for the University.

What is an 'authority to exchange medical information form'?

In some cases the University may request a medical certificate (or in some instances, a medical report) from the staff member's treating medical practitioner.

The University will seek information from the medical practitioner about the staff member's ability to undertake the role and whether any restrictions are required.

This information will provide the basis for assessing whether any reasonable adjustments are required and whether these adjustments can be accommodated by the University.

Who pays for the reasonable adjustments at work?

Cost centre managers are responsible for ensuring funds are available to cover the costs associated with, for example, independent medical advice, workplace assessments and workplace adjustments, including purchase of equipment. Where the cost exceeds $1000 a request from the local People, Talent and Culture Business Partner can be made to the Associate Director: Wellbeing & Employee Benefits, Mrs Jenny Hardy.

In addition, the Australian Government has an Employment Assistance Fund to help employees and employers with workplace adjustments by providing financial assistance. 

What if my disability is preventing me from working?

If upon receipt of medical information the staff member is temporarily unable to work due to their disability, the following options may be available:

  • Personal leave
  • Annual leave
  • Temporary Incapacity Benefit (refer to Superannuation Officer)

What if I am supporting someone with a disability?

The University recognises that both prospective and current staff may have carer responsibilities.

Where the University is made aware of the need for flexibility, it will consider what reasonable adjustments can be accommodated which may include accessing the University's range of flexible work arrangements and leave, some of which include paid and unpaid carers leave, family responsibilities and compassionate leave.