Workplace adjustments: onboarding process - equality impact assessment

This is an equality impact assessment which was done at the start of a project to improve workplace adjustments for new starts in Scottish Government.


Policy Aim

Describe in this paragraph what the purpose of your policy/strategy/plan is and its desired outcomes and to which National Outcome(s) it contributes.

National outcomes:

  • Fair Work and Business: We have thriving and innovative businesses, with quality jobs and fair work for everyone[1]
  • Human Rights: we respect, protect and fulfil human rights and live free from discrimination

Scottish Government Equality Outcomes:

Copy 2 outcomes

A workplace adjustment[2] is a change to a work process, practice, procedure or environment that enables an employee to perform their job in a way that minimises the impact of their impairment, condition or personal circumstances and removes the barriers that increases that impact. Conditions (relating to disability legislation) include physical, neurological, cognitive and mental conditions. A workplace adjustment goes beyond the legal requirement of 'reasonable adjustment' – what an employer must do under Equality Legislation, and instead focusses on the aspiration of the employer we want to be – looking at what can be done rather than just what must be done.

In taking this broader approach adjustments can also be needed for conditions that may not be classified as a disability, such as a time limited health condition (e.g. sprained wrist, broken bone), caring responsibilities, religious observance or as adjustments for trans people.

The focus of this EQIA is new starts and in particular, onboarding: the process between accepting a job offer (having been successful at interview) and starting the job, until the person's adjustments are in place. This is detailed below.

In progressing its Equality Outcomes the Scottish Government has made a commitment to empower disabled employees to realise their potential in the workplace, removing unnecessary barriers to recruitment, retention and progression. The Recruitment and Retention Plan for Disabled People 2019 (DRRAP) sets a target of 25% of external recruitment of disabled people over the next seven years.

The plan sets out the actions we will take as an employer to support more disabled people into work in Scottish Government and to enable existing disabled employees to thrive and succeed at work.

The anticipated outcomes for the project align with the desired outcomes of the DRRAP to:

  • Create an accessible workplace where everyone can perform without barriers
  • Have corporate policies and practices that work well, and work well together, to enable disabled people to thrive at work.

One of the commitments to support this outcome was to consider and take forward the findings of the Scottish Government: Reasonable Adjustments Discovery report published December 2018 and conducted by Storm ID to review and propose a revised approach for delivering a workplace adjustments service.

The workplace adjustments project team is delivering a project that will streamline the process of arranging adjustments for current and new employees. This current workstream will review the current approach to onboarding new candidates by the Scottish Government to ensure that their needs are identified at an early stage before they begin their new role and the right support or equipment is put in place to enable them to perform their role safely and well.

NB: This project pilots one element of the improved service – taking an agile approach to developing and extending the new service on an iterative basis.

Who will it affect?

  • New Scottish Government employees with a health condition, disability or who request an adjustment. It will impact on new employees who have identified a health condition on their application form, and have passed the interview stage and are going through pre-employment checks. The process will introduce a new element as the candidate will be contacted in the first place by the workplace adjustment project team (WAS). The WAS team is piloting provision of a single point of contact for each new employee and recruiting managers to provide specialist support efficiently and effectively. The project team will liaise with any/all other contacts within SG or outside the organisation, acting as a conduit and enabling adjustments to be made to a set timescale. Most importantly, the approach will put the member of staff at the centre of the process and improve communication with them and their line manager.
  • Line managers recruiting new staff who may need an adjustment. The project will ensure that line managers have the appropriate support and guidance to make and review adjustments. And with the employees consent, shares the impact of their circumstances on how they work. It will awareness and understanding of line managers of how best to support their staff member.
  • It will also impact on a range of SG teams who will benefit from the efficiencies delivered by a dedicated team coordinating effort – such as HR Wellbeing teams, Resourcing teams Occupational Health and Safety, iTECS

What might prevent the desired outcomes being achieved?

  • Breakdown in communications between the candidate and SG teams. If the candidate is not asked or feel able to let SG teams know about their needs.
  • Non-disclosure by new employees of their workplace adjustment needs at an early stage because of lack of trust in managers or HR services and/or a perception that disclosure may have a negative effect on their being offered a job. In this case an adjustment would not be identified until they have started in post, causing a delay.
  • Non-disclosure by new employees of their workplace adjustment needs at an early stage because they don't realise they will need one. This delays identifying an adjustment until they have started in post, causing a delay.
  • Breakdown in communication between SG teams. SG teams not sharing the right information at the right time and/or missing out a team (for example not ensuring the relevant IT software or equipment is sourced).
  • Unclear or ambiguous guidance for staff, meaning that opportunities to join up the services are missed.
  • Disjointed or complex processes.
  • Resistance from or lack of understanding by line managers. Line managers may not feel that a person's adjustments make them suitable for the post or be aware of our equality duties.
  • Supplier issues. We are unable to access suitable equipment in time.
  • Costs/financial ownership. Disagreements over which team is responsible for paying for adjustments. Funding for a new dedicated team within an environment seeking for financial savings.
  • Lack of ownership or lines of responsibility between teams. Where teams do not consider that they are responsible for accessing equipment or making the right connections between teams.
  • Accessibility issues. Including, but not only, physical accessibility (to a building or office); could also include accessible information because it is provided in an inaccessible format.
  • Security Constraints. In order to access equipment or software for adjustments in time, we need to order some items in advance of the person being set up on the payroll.
  • Insufficient record keeping. Where information to enable someone to access their adjustments is not kept in a central location.
  • Lack of confidence in disclosing diversity information. New employees may feel nervous or mistrustful that if they disclose the information, they may be discriminated against.



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