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Equality Bodies supporting Reasonable Accommodation for People with Disabilities

May 16th 2014

Significant social and legislative progress has been achieved in Europe over the years and equality bodies have played and continue to play an active role in the advancement of diversity in the workplace and services. Their work, often in collaboration with employers, service providers and other actors in the field is key to making diversity in the workplace and in service provision a reality.

Available literature on reasonable accommodation and specifically experience and guidance on its practical application and promotion is limited. This owes much to the relative novelty of the concept but also to the complexity of issues and sensitivities involved.

Equinet wishes through this paper to provide the equality bodies with a good practice guide in making reasonable accommodation for people with disabilities by employers and service providers and to offer practical help and guidance to put the concepts of diversity and equality policies through reasonable accommodation measures into practice. This paper is designed for national equality bodies to inspire and help build further knowledge and a greater understanding of instruments and approaches available to promote the concept of reasonable accommodation to employers and service providers.

In collaboration with member organisations across Europe, Equinet has assembled a collection of case studies describing good practices in making reasonable accommodation by employers and service providers. These examples of good practices drawn from the experience and learning of national equality bodies provide interesting insights into the broad range of innovative and engaging approaches implemented across Europe in the direction of promoting reasonable accommodation measures.

During the preparation of this good practice guide Equinet has also consulted staff members and publications of its partners from the European Disability Forum (EDF) and the European Network Against Racism (ENAR), which have both been active in the area of reasonable accommodation; the former in promoting reasonable accommodation for people with disabilities and the latter for people from diverse cultural and religious backgrounds.

The ambition of this practical guide is to encourage equality bodies to use it as a resource to develop, refine or improve their own approach and to take action to promote reasonable accommodation. The case studies received by Equinet’s member organisations reveal practices in reasonable accommodation which can be categorised in four sections:

  • Awards
  • Training and guidance
  • Leaflets
  • Publications or research reports.

In the preparation of this practical guide Equinet issued a call to its member equality bodies for examples of their work on reasonable accommodation. While the call sparked an interest in the project and the eventual good practice guide, the response rate to the call for examples remained low. Nine good practice examples concerning measures to accommodate persons with disabilities were submitted by five equality bodies. This illustrates the limitation of equality bodies’ practical experiences and case law on reasonable accommodation and underlines the need for further good practice exchanges.

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