We are committed to taking action to ensure that the way we work does not place people with disabilities at a disadvantage. We want to remove the barriers to accessing the tribunals.
Our legal duties
Anyone providing services to the public or a section of the public, or carrying out public functions, who finds that there are barriers to people with disabilities in the way they do things must consider making adjustments. If those adjustments are reasonable, they must be made.
The duty is ‘anticipatory’. This means a service provider cannot wait until a person with a disability wants to use the service. They must think in advance (and on an ongoing basis) about what people with a range of impairments (such as people who have a visual or hearing impairment, a mobility impairment, or a learning disability) might reasonably need.
The Equality Act 2010 requires us to provide reasonable adjustments for people who are “disabled”. Under the Act this means they have a “physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day to day activities”.
The duty is to make “reasonable adjustments” if the way that we carry out our functions places a disabled person at a “substantial disadvantage” compared to someone who does not have a disability.
We will do our best accommodate requests even if you do not have a disability as defined by the Equality Act 2010.
What are reasonable adjustments?
Reasonable adjustments are not defined by the Act. There is a Code of Practice which gives guidance as to the kind of adjustments that could be made. Making a reasonable adjustment means making a change to our usual practices to avoid or correct a disadvantage to a person who has a disability in accessing our service. Depending on your needs, this could include:
Providing documents or correspondence in larger print, or with a specific colour contrast (which may help people with conditions such as dyslexia)
Giving you more time than would usually be allowed to provide further information or comments on their complaint
Using the telephone rather than written communication (e.g. if you have a visual disability)
Translating documents or correspondence into Braille
Communicating with you through your representative or advocate
Arranging for a single point of contact at the tribunal
Providing access to an ‘EasyRead’ version of key documents for those with a learning disability
Providing access to a “Reader Friendly” version of key documents for those with dyslexia or other reading difficulties
If you use British Sign Language (BSL) we might provide you with an interpreter
Asking for reasonable adjustments
When you first contact us, we will ask you if you might need an adjustment to help you use the tribunals. However, you can also ask for a Reasonable Adjustment at any time.
We will also suggest new or additional adjustments if we feel it might help you continue to make the best use of our service.
If you would like to request a reasonable adjustment, please contact us as soon as possible Contact us / getting to the hearing centre.
Our response to requests
Before agreeing an adjustment, we will consider:
What the disadvantage would be if the adjustment were not made
Whether the adjustment will be effective in reducing the disadvantage
How practical it is to make it
Whether it would disrupt our other activities unreasonably
The cost and availability of resources, including external help and finance
We will try to agree a reasonable adjustment with a minimum of delay. In some cases we may need to consider the request in more detail.
There may be circumstances where we decide not to meet the request. The law states that an adjustment need only be made if it is “reasonable.” We need to take account of the cost or resource implications of making the adjustment, whether the request itself is reasonable and whether there is a less expensive way of meeting the request. Where it is very difficult to provide the adjustment or meeting it would interfere with our ability to meet our legal obligations, we may decide it is not “reasonable”.
We will look at each request individually and will aim to agree any adjustments with you to avoid us making incorrect assumptions about your needs. Where we do not agree an adjustment, we will explain why. When we agree a reasonable adjustment, we will let you know in writing.
Other actions we take
We publish this policy on our website and highlight it to bodies in our jurisdiction (e.g. Enforcement Authorities)
We make sure that our staff are aware of their responsibilities.
We are in the process of updating all our documents to include a statement that invites people to contact us if they need us to adapt the way we communicate.
We regularly review our work to see if we are putting our commitments as set out in this policy into practice.
Complaints about failure to provide reasonable adjustments
We hope that, when you use the tribunals, you will be happy with any action we have taken to make sure any barriers to making your complaint have been overcome. But if you are unhappy with our response to any requests you make for reasonable adjustment, or with the reasonable adjustment provided, you can complain to us about this.
You can find out more about how you might make a complaint here:
Updated July 2022