Policy last updated

18 August 2023


  • Schools

March 2020



The department is committed to building diverse and inclusive workplaces and developing workplace cultures that are safe and accessible, build respect, foster inclusiveness, promote diversity and embrace the unique skills and qualities of all our employees.

All applicants and employees, including those with disability, must be treated respectfully and equitably in all stages of the employment process including:

  • recruitment and selection
  • professional development and training
  • performance management
  • promotion or transfer.

The department understands that there are a range of factors that impact on people’s employment, and for some people with a disability, a workplace reasonable adjustments may be required to assist them at work. Reasonable adjustments are provided in department workplaces where required.

All employees, managers and school leaders should be aware of their rights and responsibilities to ensure that these are upheld. You can learn more about this, the relevant legislation and department policy from the Policy and Guidelines tab.

Disability Action Plan

The department commits to supporting people with a disability to live satisfying everyday lives. The department's Disability Action Plan 2018 to 2021 describes what the department would do over the life of the plan to support the Victorian Government’s vision for an inclusive Victoria, and to ensure that students and employees are supported to reach their potential.

The Disability Action Plan can be found in the Resources tab.

The department is developing its next Disability Action Plan in 2023.

Disability Employment Plan

The department's Disability Employment Plan 2019 to 2022 set out the department's commitment to boosting employment opportunities and career experiences for people with disability. It included a range of actions that set stronger foundations through policy, procedures and processes that removed barriers and ensured increased inclusion across our workplaces.

The Disability Employment Plan 2019 to 2022 can be found in the Resources tab.

The department is developing its next Disability Employment Plan in 2023.

Inclusive workplaces guide

The Inclusive Workplace Guide supports the implementation of the department's Equal Opportunity and Anti-discrimination Policy, bringing together available resources to assist principals/managers and employees to create inclusive and respectful workplaces.

This guide has been developed to assist everyone at department workplaces to support employees with diverse and intersecting identities. It gives practical tips to implement best practice in diversity and inclusion across teams, and to support staff to bring their whole selves to work. Each area of the guide explains what discrimination looks like and actions to foster inclusion. It has a specific section dedicated to building inclusive workplaces for staff with disability. There are also links to further resources and department policies.

The inclusive workplaces guide can be found in the Resources tab.

Personal emergency evacuation plan

A personal emergency evacuation plan (PEEP) is a tool to assist employees should they wish to complete one. It is a practical measure to ensure appropriate actions are taken for the individual in an emergency, where an employee requires additional or specific assistance to evacuate the building. The customised document provides the framework for the planning and provision of emergency evacuation of a person with a disability requiring assistance. Developing a PEEP is not mandatory and is developed by the employee if they wish.

The plan will outline a specific procedure to be followed in the event of an evacuation and will also state the designated person(s) to assist in the evacuation. The employee will lead the development of the PEEP in consultation with their manager and the Chief or Floor Warden (where applicable). A copy of the PEEP should only be provided to the Warden and the employees buddy/designated person(s) to assist in the evacuation.

The Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan template can be found it the Resources tab.

Relevant Legislation

Policy and Guidelines

Workplace adjustment guidelines – staff

This guide (last updated August 2023) contains the following chapters:

  • Introduction
  • What are workplace adjustments?
  • Sharing of staff disability information
  • Legal protections
  • Implementing workplace adjustments
  • Flexible working arrangements and workplace adjustments
  • Personal emergency evacuation plan
  • Grievances



The purpose of this document is to provide guidelines to staff and principals/managers on how to request, apply for and arrange workplace adjustments in school settings.

People with disability are valued members of the department’s workforce. The Department of Education (the department) is committed to building diverse and accessible workplaces and developing workplace cultures that are safe, respectful, foster inclusiveness, promote diversity and embrace the unique skills and qualities of all our staff members.

Staff members may require workplace adjustments for many reasons and at different times of their lives. This could be because of barriers in the workplace that interact with a staff member’s disability or health conditions.

What is disability?

The social model of disability regards people with disability as people whose physical, mental, intellectual or sensory differences, when interacting with inaccessible communities and environments, prevent full and equal community participation.

The social model of disability is an important way of perceiving inequality because it views disability as stemming from communities, services and spaces that are not accessible or inclusive. In the social model of disability, it is society that places limits on a person, not their disability.

There are many different kinds of disability and they can arise in many ways, including, but not limited to, from accidents, illness, disease, condition or disorder. Disability includes physical, intellectual, psychiatric, sensory, neurological and learning disabilities as well as physical disfigurement and the presence in the body of disease-causing organisms (such as the HIV virus). A disability may affect, amongst other things, mobility, learning, or communication, and some people may have more than one disability. A disability may be visible or hidden, may be permanent or temporary, and, depending on the accessibility of one’s community and environment, may have minimal or substantial impact on their participation in society.

The Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth)External Link (DDA) defines disability broadly as:

  • total or partial loss of the person's bodily or mental functions
  • total or partial loss of a part of the body
  • the presence in the body of organisms causing disease or illness
  • the presence in the body of organisms capable of causing disease or illness
  • the malfunction, malformation or disfigurement of a part of the person's body
  • a disorder or malfunction that results in the person learning differently from a person without the disorder or malfunction
  • a disorder, illness or disease that affects a person's thought processes, perception of reality, emotions or judgement or that results in disturbed behaviour.

The DDA includes a disability that:

  • presently exists
  • previously existed but no longer exists
  • may exist in the future (including because of a genetic predisposition to that disability)
  • is imputed to a person.

To avoid doubt, a disability that is otherwise covered by this definition includes behaviour that is a symptom or manifestation of the disability.

Staff with disability may not require any workplace adjustments, but if they do, the department will provide adjustments whenever it is needed, possible and reasonable to do so. When adjustments are needed, the process of identifying the adjustments required and gaining approval for these where reasonable, should be straightforward. This process is detailed further in the Implementing workplace adjustments section.

All staff members and principals/managers should be aware of their rights and responsibilities to ensure that staff have what they need to work safely, effectively and comply with legislation and department policy.

What are workplace adjustments?

What are workplace adjustments?

Also referred to as 'reasonable adjustments', a workplace adjustment is a modification to a work process, practice, procedure or setting that enables a person with disability to perform their job in a way that minimises the impact of barriers they face at work. The particular circumstances of each person need to be considered. Adjustments make the workplace more inclusive by removing barriers.

Adjustments can be administrative, environmental or procedural and could include:

  • adjustments to work premises, equipment or facilities
  • adjustments to work related communications including making available information in an accessible format
  • adjustments to work methods
  • adjustments to work arrangements, including in relation to hours of work and use of leave entitlements
  • adjustments to methods used for testing, assessment or selection, including in recruitment processes
  • adjustments to work related rules or other adjustments to enable a person to comply with rules as they exist
  • providing training to co-workers or supervisors.

Under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth)External Link and the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 (Vic)External Link the department is obligated to make workplace adjustments to accommodate an individual’s disability, unless that adjustment would result in unjustifiable hardship.

Workplace adjustments allow a person to:

  • have equal opportunity in recruitment processes, promotion and ongoing development
  • perform the inherent or essential requirements of their job safely in the workplace
  • experience equitable terms and conditions of employment
  • maximise productivity.

The rights of people with disability are upheld and protected by the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 (Vic)External Link . Refer to Legal protections for further information on the legal context.

What is 'reasonable' when making workplace adjustments?

A workplace adjustment is considered reasonable unless it causes 'unjustifiable hardship' to the employer or organisation. Limitations on the obligation to provide reasonable adjustments include:

  • adjustments which impose an unjustifiable hardship on the employer, for example financial cost, an amendment to the physical building that is not possible due to council or other restrictions
  • changing the inherent requirements of the job (or maintaining a job that would otherwise be altered or abolished)
  • assigning performance of some inherent requirements of the job to another staff member
  • adjustment that would disadvantage other staff members
  • creating a new or different job
  • promotion or transfer to a different job.

Some examples of reasonable workplace adjustments across the employee lifecycle include:

  • offer flexibility in the recruitment process and be prepared to modify or waive some aspects of the recruitment process if there are alternative ways to obtain the required information
  • be flexible in the presentation of selection criteria, for instance written versus spoken, and/or provide information in alternative formats such as in electronic format for a candidate with low vision
  • accommodate requests for a support person to attend an interview
  • allowing a person with disability to have flexibility in their working hours, such as working part-time or starting and finishing later, or working remotely from alternate office settings
  • redistributing minor duties (i.e. not inherent requirements of a job) that a person with disability finds difficult to do
  • office furniture and equipment such as height-adjustable desks, ergonomic computer hardware
  • adaptive software and technologies including speech recognition software for people with vision impairment, an amplified phone for a person with hearing impairment, or a digital recorder for someone who finds it difficult to take written notes due to physical impairment
  • providing additional training, mentoring, supervision and support
  • providing an Auslan interpreter or live captioning at meetings for a staff member with a hearing impairment
  • providing agendas in electronic formats for people who find it difficult to manipulate pages.

Requests for workplace adjustments can be made by any person at any time in a recruitment process, or whilst employed with the department. Refer to Implementing workplace adjustments for further information.

Sharing of staff disability information (disclosure)

Sharing of staff disability information (disclosure)

There are many reasons why a person may or may not choose to share information about their disability. Legally, a person with disability is not obligated to share information about their disability unless:

  • an adjustment is required to complete the main tasks of their job
  • there is a risk to workplace safety.

Some staff or prospective staff may be fearful or hesitant about sharing information about their disability. They should be reassured that any such information is requested and used only in order to enable the school and department to ensure they can implement reasonable adjustments and provide a safe workplace in accordance with their obligations as an employer.

Collection, use and disclosure of information about a staff member or prospective staff member’s personal and health information must be in accordance with the department’s privacy policy and the provisions of the Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014 (Vic) or the Health Records Act 2001 (Vic).

For further information, please refer to the Privacy policyExternal Link .

Federal and state anti-discrimination legislation covers all department staff (including contractors), volunteers and candidates applying for a job.

Federal and state anti-discrimination legislation contains a positive duty which requires employers to make workplace adjustments for employees and prospective employees with disability (subject to the exceptions outlined below).

There are certain circumstances where discrimination is not unlawful under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth)External Link and Equal Opportunity Act 2010 (Vic)External Link . These include:

  • where an unjustifiable hardship would be imposed by the provision of special services or facilities which are necessary for the person with the disability to do the work
  • where the person, because of their disability, would be unable to carry out the inherent requirements of the role, even with the provision of workplace adjustments by an employer
  • general exceptions such as if the discrimination is necessary to protect the health or safety of any person or property, or where the discrimination is authorised by another piece of legislation.

Implementing workplace adjustments

Implementing workplace adjustments

It is the responsibility of principals/managers to ensure that workplace adjustments are in place where they are needed to support staff to perform their duties.

Flowchart of the steps to implementing workplace adjustments: discuss, seek advice, make a plan, get approval and implement, review

Step 1 – Discuss

Staff member or principal/manager can initiate the discussion regarding what adjustments are required to meet the staff members particular situation and their needs. Further advice and support can be explored during the initial stage where some additional information may be required to decide on the most suitable approach. The goal of this discussion is to ensure that everyone is comfortable with, and in agreement with the next steps in the process.

In some cases, the initial discussion will provide clarity about what is needed, and the principal/manager and staff member can agree on what adjustments, and what steps to take to put these in place. This may include some funding and approvals that can be quickly and easily managed within the school or region (see following sections on approvals and funding).

Step 2 – Seek advice

In some cases, help from others may be needed. This could be because the job role is new to the staff member, or requires time to adjust to their changed health condition and understand more fully what will work best for them. New environments may also make it difficult to predict exactly what is needed until a person commences working in them. Employee Safety, Wellbeing and Inclusion Division can provide support to both principals/managers and staff on the implementation of workplace adjustments.

There are a range of policies, resources and services that may be able to give advice on a workplace adjustment, including but not limited to:

If further advice is needed, the principal/manager must obtain the staff members permission to seek support from the Workforce Diversity and Inclusion team which may require meeting with the staff member to obtain consent, clarify specific needs and seek any additional information.

OHS Advisory Service

Staff and principals with OHS queries can access the department's expert health and safety support service. The OHS Advisory Service can provide help with implementing the OHS Management System, reporting or closing hazards or incidents in eduSafe Plus (staff login required), conducting workstation assessments, conducting risk assessments and other OHS issues.

Our OHS Advisory Service now has mental health and wellbeing specialists to assist leadership teams to proactively safeguard wellbeing and respond to wellbeing issues.

Telephone: 1300 074 715



JobAccess is a Commonwealth Government organisation which provides information and advice to assist with the employment of people with disability. The service is free and can assist with all aspects of disability employment including workplace assessments to determine what changes need to be made, coordination of any work required and financial assistance. JobAccess Advisors can be contacted on 1800 464 800.

Job access can also assist with finding a professional such as an Occupational Therapist to provide an assessment on any of the following:

  • Job Task Analysis
  • Clinical Psych Assessment
  • Workplace/Workstation Assessment
  • Activities of Daily Living Assessment
  • Vocational/Job Capability Assessment
  • Cognitive/Neuro-Psych Assessment
  • Fitness for Duties Examination
  • Exercise Physiology/Dietician Assessment
  • Functional Capacity Evaluation

A workplace modification assessment may assist the principal/manager and the staff member to work out what workplace adjustments will best meet the needs of the staff member. The assessment is undertaken by a qualified professional. The assessor will look at the workplace and any barriers that may exist; and talk with the staff member and to their principals/managers to find solutions to make their workplace more flexible, accessible and suitable to their requirements.

The workplace modification assessment will usually result in the preparation of a report which may include one or more recommendations. JobAccess will work with principals/managers to implement the recommendations and arrange for Commonwealth funding to reimburse the costs of the modifications in most cases.

Step 3 – Make a plan

At this stage the principal/manager and staff member make a plan, outlining the type of adjustment(s) they need to enable them to undertake the inherent requirements of the job safely and effectively. People Services consultantsExternal Link , Return to Work Coordinators (if applicable), and/or the DE Enablers Network can assist with the development of a plan. You can also contact the Workforce Diversity and Inclusion team at

Step 4 – Get approval (if required) and implement

A decision to approve (or not) the workplace adjustment must be made within 21 days of the request. If denied, an explanation is to be provided in writing to the requesting staff member. Some approvals will require the delegated authority to approve, for example if a flexible work arrangement or requiring financial approvals.

In most cases workplace adjustments have minimal or no cost. The most common type of adjustment is flexible work arrangements that allows a person to manage their health and be productive and happy. Where an adjustment does have a cost involved, the cost is usually small, and as such schools and regions should consider if they can fund this from their internal budgets. Where this is not possible there are a number of options:

  • the individual or the principal/manager can apply for financial assistance from the Australian Government’s Employment Assistance FundExternal Link , which has been established to provide financial assistant to undertake workplace modifications, purchase equipment and provide other support and services where required – some eligibility criteria apply
  • schools seeking funding for reasonable adjustments (which cannot be met by the school’s budget) should write to the Regional Director outlining a case for financial assistance. This request must be supported by appropriate documentation from the professional who performed the workplace assessment and any quotations.

Once the adjustment has been approved, the principal will be responsible for implementing the workplace adjustment.

Request for change of hours

Where an adjustment includes a change of hours or working remotely a Flexible Work agreement may be required. This requires approval from the appropriate delegate.

Where an adjustment includes a change in fraction (e.g. 0.8), see Part time employment for guidance.

Step 5 – Review

The workplace adjustment once fully implemented should be reviewed regularly and/or when things change. For example, a change in the nature of the disability, a change in work duties, a change in work location and/or health.

Feedback may be requested on effectiveness of adjustment, for example, at the end of a trial period. One way to do this is to embed conversations with the person at regular catch up meetings. These are good opportunities to ask how the arrangements are working and to check in to see if requirements have changed and any workplace adjustments should be modified.

Workplace adjustments across the employee lifecycle

Workplace adjustments across the employee lifecycle

The employee lifecycle

Refer to Employee lifecycle in table format for more information
The employee lifecycle

Employee lifecycle

The employee lifecycle is a continuous cycle, with engagement at each stage influencing the next, including:

  • recruitment and selection
  • induction and onboarding
  • performance and career development
  • retention.
Download The employee lifecycle

The employee lifecycle refers to the natural stages a school staff member goes through during their time at the department. The employee lifecycle is a continuous cycle, with engagement at each stage influencing the next.

Resources are available to support both principals/managers and staff members to implement workplace adjustments across the employee lifecycle.

Recruitment and selection

Workplace adjustment during the recruitment phase ensures that all applicants have a fair chance to demonstrate they have the skills required for the position. Not every applicant needs to be assessed in an identical manner. This provides flexibility when assessing applicants with a disability. All applicants should be encouraged to ask if they require any workplace adjustments through the recruitment process.

When reading the Schools Recruitment Guide, hiring principals/managers should understand the balancing of substantive equality and merit, that is, equal treatment does not achieve equity for applicants with disability.

The onus is on the panel chair to ask any applicant if any workplace adjustments are required, such as an accessible room or parking for an applicant in a wheelchair. For applicants with disability, hiring principals/managers and panel members should consider what information is appropriate for the situation. It is best practice for the panel chair to take an active approach and not to assume that a person’s health information will be offered voluntarily.

Available resources:

Induction and on-boarding

Where disability information has been shared at the recruitment stage, all effort should be taken to determine any workplace adjustments and where possible that these are arranged to be in place prior to commencement.

Performance and career development

The department is committed to developing capabilities of all its staff. Tools and resources are available to support principals/managers and staff to support every career journey.

Workplace adjustment should be considered when required to enable staff member performance and career development. For example, how a Performance and Development Plan (PDP) is approached, its timing, and what is considered suitable progression.


Promoting a healthy work-life balance will help to retain skilled staff and boost productivity. Flexible work arrangements can be an example of workplace adjustments. Flexible work requests may include arrangements around working time, work organisation or the work environment. A change to work arrangements may occur just once or be ongoing (for a fixed or indefinite time).

The department promotes a safe, inclusive and respectful workplace free form discrimination and harassment. Please refer to the Inclusive Workplaces Guide for resources to assist principals/managers and staff to create inclusive and respectful workplaces.

Flexible working arrangements and workplace adjustments

Flexible working arrangements and workplace adjustments

Staff can choose to arrange flexible working arrangements through any of the following:

For people with disability, a flexible work arrangement may be a type of workplace adjustment. In this case, the request must be managed through the workplace adjustment process.

Although the range of flexible work arrangement options may differ based on particular roles and areas of working, the major flexible work arrangements available to teaching staff are part-time, job share and some flexible start and finish arrangements. For non-teaching staff in schools, the range of flexible work options may include part-time, job share, flexible start and finish times, compressed work week, working from home and purchased leave.

The department is obligated under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) to consider and respond to written requests for flexible work arrangements made by certain staff, including employees with a disability and carers (within the meaning of the Carer’s Recognition Act 2010 (Cth)).

While a request for flexible work as a workplace adjustment must be managed through the workplace adjustment process, there are requirements under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) that must still be met when a relevant person requests flexible work. This includes:

  • responding in writing within 21 days of receiving a request
  • that a principal can only refuse a request on reasonable business grounds and if they have:
    • discussed the request with the staff member and genuinely tried to reach an agreement on alternative arrangements to accommodate the staff member’s circumstances
    • considered the consequences for refusing the staff member’s request.

Reasonable business grounds for refusal include, but are not limited to:

  • the new arrangements would be too costly
  • there is no capacity to change the working arrangements of other staff members to accommodate the new arrangement
  • it would be impractical to change the working arrangements of other staff members or recruit new staff members to accommodate the new arrangement
  • the new arrangement requested would result in a significant loss in efficiency or productivity
  • the new working arrangements requested would likely have a negative impact on customer service.

Principals must consider the consequences of refusal on the staff member and propose other changes (in writing) that the department (as employer) can make to accommodate the staff members workplace adjustment needs.

If the principal determines that there are reasonable business grounds to refuse the request, this decision must be communicated in writing and include detailed information about the reasonable business grounds (for example, the cost of implementing flexible work arrangement).

Under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) flexible work disputes can be referred to the Fair Work Commission – this is in addition to the power of the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission to hear complaints under Victorian legislation. All staff can also make complaints about flexible work decisions through the department’s internal complaints process.

For more information refer to the Flexible work policy.

Personal emergency evacuation plan

Personal emergency evacuation plan

The latest Australian Standards for Planning for Emergencies in Facilities recommends that occupants requiring assistance to evacuate in an emergency should have a personal emergency evacuation plan (PEEP).

A PEEP is a practical measure to ensure appropriate actions are taken for an individual in the event of an emergency, where that person requires additional or specific assistance to evacuate a building or premises. Having a PEEP is not mandatory but highly recommended for people who may need assistance in the event of an emergency.

School leaders should ensure that their staff with disability know that they can prepare a PEEP if they want to.

For more information, refer to: Employee personal emergency evacuation plan template (DOCX)External Link



Where an applicant or staff member considers they have been treated unfairly or unreasonably in any matter related to their employment, they have access to review, grievance or dispute resolution processes to seek to resolve the issue.

For information about this process including the steps to be undertaken and avenues of appeal see Complaints or Grievances.

Workplace Contact officers can also be contacted for a confidential discussion.

While the department encourages its staff to use the internal complaints processes to resolve any complaints, staff may also lodge a complaint with external bodies such as the Merit Protection BoardsExternal Link , Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights CommissionExternal Link , the Australian Human Rights CommissionExternal Link and the Fair Work CommissionExternal Link .


Reviewed 17 August 2023