Guide to creating a disability friendly workplace

August 04, 2020

By creating a disability friendly workplace, we ensure businesses reflect the diversity found amongst our clients and customers.  


Having a more diverse workforce makes sense from a business perspective too as it is shown to improve reputation and build loyalty. It also opens up a broader talent pool of people with the skills and experience you need to grow your business. Finally, making your workplace disability friendly also makes it safer for all employees, reducing the risk of injury and makes your premises or office easier to access for everyone.   


There are a number of ways your business can make your workplace more disability friendly but most of them fall under three main categories:

Disability Awareness Training should be mandatory for all employees. If there are financial or time constraints, focus initially on providing training to Human Resources, management and those who work directly with a colleague with a disability. Training will vary somewhat but should cover:

  • Disabilities and abilities based on mobility, sensory and mental health issues
  • Disability etiquette to facilitate respectful communication and interaction 
  • Awareness exercises to resolve common misconceptions about people with disabilities

The level of physical adjustment required to make workplaces disability friendly will vary significantly by business. If your office or manufacturing facility is a relatively modern building, it may already meet many of the requirements. However, if your businesses are located in old or protected structures it is still possible to make them accessible but more budget may be required. The most common physical adjustments for buildings include:

  • Addition of ramp or lift access
  • Accessible toilets
  • Widening doorways and corridors
  • Lowered countertops, handles and light switches

When it comes to office or factory spaces, further adjustments may be required to assist someone with a disability in doing their job. They may require:

  • Modified or additional furniture
  • Specialist software
  • Specialist lighting
  • Good visual contrast 

Amongst other elements to make their workspace work for them.

Depending on the nature of a person’s disability, working standard office hours may not be possible. Having flexibility in the way people work or enabling working from home may allow employees with disabilities to successfully meet their professional obligations. Work with employees to understand what would work best for them. Some examples of flexible work practices include:

  • Part time hours for those who may struggle with a standard work week.
  • Working non-standard hours to allow for more frequent breaks for rest or medical treatment. 
  • Intermittent flexibility where different hours are not required all the time, only to meet specific needs or if a flare up of a condition occurs.  

It is important to note, there is legislation in many countries which require businesses to accommodate people with disabilities in the workplace. It is essential to ensure your business follows all regulations carefully, so you are not in breach of any laws. If your business is moving into a new market and you are unsure of what is required, seek legal advice. 

Begin your journey towards transforming your workplaces to be more disability friendly by conducting an audit of your building’s accessibility as it is. Once complete, build an implementation plan for any issues that may arise.


As an international employer, if you are sending employees abroad on expat assignment, protect their health and wellbeing with an international health insurance group scheme