Equitable employment

The benefits to business of hiring people with a disability are both economic and ethical.

Research has consistently found that people with a disability make excellent employees.

It is important to provide all applicants and staff with equal opportunities in gaining employment, promotion, training and development.


  • Reasonable adjustment

    A reasonable adjustment is a change made to enable a person with a disability to effectively perform their job. Under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 employers are required to make reasonable adjustments for a person with a disability who:

    • Is offered employment, or is an employee, and
    • Requires the adjustments in order to perform the genuine and reasonable requirement of the employer.

    Many employees with a disability will not need any workplace adjustment. The majority of reasonable adjustments to workplaces cost less than $500.00 (Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, 2002 17: 252).

    Reasonable adjustments enable an employee with a disability to:

    • Perform the inherent or essential requirements of their job safely in the workplace
    • Have access to equal employment opportunities including recruitment, promotion and training
    • Enjoy equal terms and conditions of employment.

    Reasonable adjustment can include changes to:

    • Access to the workplace
    • Work area design
    • Job tasks
    • Work arrangements
    • Equipment.

    Examples of reasonable adjustments

    Examples of reasonable adjustments include:

    • Adjustments to work arrangements to accommodate an employee who needs breaks because of pain or fatigue issues
    • Access to a telephone typewriter (TTY) for an employee who is deaf, has hearing loss or has a communication difficulty
    • Providing adjustment breaks during training sessions
    • Providing support and training to supervisors and co-workers
    • An adjustable height desk for a person using a wheelchair
    • Screen reading software for employees with vision impairment.

    Financial assistance

    The majority of workers with a disability won’t require any workplace modifications. But the Commonwealth Government’s Employment Assistance Fund can provide financial assistance when a workplace modification is required.

    The program can help to modify physical work environments and purchase assistive technology, Auslan interpreting and other services.

    Further details about the Employment Assistance Fund and workplace assessment can be found at JobAccess.

    Discussing reasonable adjustments with employees

    The employee will often be the expert regarding the adjustments they require. Asking them about their requirements and preference for adjustments is the best approach. When the requirements of a job are discussed at a job interview, many people with a disability can identify simple adjustments or accommodations to enable them to perform these requirements. They might also be able to identify sources of expert advice.

    Reasonable adjustment during the recruitment phase

    Reasonable adjustment is most commonly considered for employees after they have been offered a job. However, it is also important to consider adjustments during the recruitment and selection phase.

    Some people with a disability may require reasonable adjustments through the recruitment process, such as in job interviews. For example, a person who is deaf may require an Auslan interpreter. Or a person with a vision impairment may request interview questions or tasks be provided in large print.

    Reasonable adjustment policy

    A reasonable adjustment policy communicates that the organisation has the intention to be inclusive. It also shows that systems have been developed and knowledge shared throughout the organisation to ensure the process is timely and effective.


    JobAccess is an initiative of the Australian Government. It has an information and advice service and website. It offers help and workplace solutions for people with a disability and their employers. For more information, see JobAccess.

  • Disclosing disability

    In the workplace, disclosing a disability means telling your employer, manager or colleagues that you have a disability. Legally you are not obliged to disclose your disability unless it affects your ability to meet the inherent requirements of your job or to work safely.

    The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission website has more information, see Your rights

    JobAccess also provides information about the legal requirements under discrimination and privacy law regarding disclosure. JobAccess has information about when you can and cannot ask questions about someone's disability or illness. For more information, see JobAccess.

  • Inclusive and flexible workplaces

    An inclusive workplace is one that welcomes diversity and is free from all forms of discrimination. In equal employment opportunity workplaces all employees have equal access to opportunities.

    The Victorian Equal Opportunity Act 2010 came into effect in August 2011. The Act seeks to eliminate discrimination, sexual harassment and victimisation. Some of the attributes protected under the Act include:

    • Age
    • Carer status
    • Disability or impairment
    • Sex
    • Race
    • Religious belief.

    Equal employment opportunity is relevant at all times in the workplace. But it is particularly critical at times of selection, appointment, promotion, training and transfer. Equal opportunity values can be evidenced by:

    • An organisation’s equal employment opportunity policy statement
    • Inclusive recruitment practices
    • Position descriptions and job advertisements that promote the organisation as an inclusive and flexible employer
    • Inclusive induction processes
    • Equal access to training and development
    • Performance management systems
    • Mentoring programs
    • Career development.

    Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission has more information on equal employment policies.

    Flexible work practices

    Employers must balance the need to build their business and properly manage and support their workforce. Developing a workplace culture that promotes a healthy work-life balance is important. It will help retain skilled staff and boost productivity.

    There are many flexible work practices. Some examples are:

    • Flexible working hours (start and finish times)
    • Flexibility with sick leave, carers leave and other types of leave
    • The way work is carried out and job rotation
    • Home-based work.

    Flexible work practices can create a better environment for everyone. They can particularly help staff with a disability. Flexibility can be used to:

    • Accommodate periodic medication or rest periods
    • Attend medical appointments
    • Cope with fluctuating periods of health.


    JobAccess is an initiative of the Australian Government. It is an information and advice service. It offers help and workplace solutions for people with a disability and their employers. For more information, see JobAccess.

  • Inclusive recruitment and retention practices

    It is important to provide all applicants and staff with equal opportunities in gaining employment, promotion, training and development.

    There are several key areas that are relevant when recruiting and retaining people with a disability. They include:

    • Position descriptions and essential requirements of the job
    • Advertising vacancies
    • The interview
    • The job offer
    • Reasonable adjustment
    • Staff training and development
    • Mentoring
    • Career planning.

    Position descriptions and essential requirements of the job

    The Disability Discrimination Act 1992 uses the term 'inherent requirements' in relation to employment. It means the essential, reasonable and genuine attributes of the role. It is the tasks that must be carried out in order to get the job done.

    When developing a position description it is important to consider what is to be achieved in the job, rather than how. For example, instead of requiring a minimum typing speed, the requirement could be to produce quality printed documents. Another example is, instead of must have a driver’s licence consider must make site visits. This will allow the applicant to demonstrate how they can complete the job requirements.

    Applicants will also be encouraged to apply when seeing a statement welcoming diversity. The statement in the position description should indicate the organisation:

    • Is an equal employment opportunity organisation
    • Has an equal employment opportunity policy
    • Puts in place inclusive and flexible recruitment and retention practices.

    The interview

    Ask job applicants whether they need any adjustment or have any requirements before an interview. This helps ensure a fair and equitable interview. Any testing for the selection process should only be used for assessing the applicant’s capacity to effectively perform the essential requirements of the role.

    JobAcess provides information about appropriate interview questions and protocols. For more information, see JobAccess.

    Reasonable adjustment

    A reasonable adjustment or workplace modification is a change made to enable a person with a disability to effectively perform their job. More information can be found on the reasonable adjustment section on this page.

    Staff training and development

    Employees with a disability should be given the same opportunities for training and development as other employees.

  • Employment practice resources

    Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission

    The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human rights commission has produced a range of resources and tools for employers. For more information, see Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission

    Australian Network on Disability

    The Australian Network on Disability is a not-for-profit membership organisation. This organisation assists its member organisations to include people with a disability in all aspects of business - as employees, customers and suppliers. For more information, see Australian Network on Disability.

    Disability Employment Australia

    Disability Employment Australia is the peak organisation that represents Australia's disability employment services. Members are specialists in finding employment for people with a disability. For more information, see Disability Employment Australia.