Passports – smoothing the way for workplace adjustments
Graeme Whippy MBE, Business Disability Consultant
“Passports” are a valuable tool for disabled employees and managers when it comes to managing workplace adjustments. If your organisation isn’t using them then you’re missing a trick.
What are “passports”?
A passport is a document that explains what workplace adjustments have been made for a disabled employee. The passport can be used by the employee to discuss their adjustment needs with future managers, either in their existing role or new roles.
How do they help?
Firstly, they make it much easier for a disabled employee to have “that conversation” with a new manager about their adjustment needs; this can be a daunting prospect for the employee even in the most enlightened organisations, so anything that reduces that burden is to be welcomed.
Also, anything that makes the conversation easier for the employee will also probably make it easier for the manager who might not yet be confident in discussing disability or adjustments.
Secondly, they help ensure the smooth transition of adjustments from manager to manager or role to role. If moving into a new role, the adjustments should still be verified in order to make sure they’re still going to be necessary and effective, but having a passport means not having to start from scratch.
What can they contain?
There are numerous templates out there with varying degrees of detail.
Personally I like to keep them as simple as possible, a 1-pager that contains the following information:
- Impact of impairment or condition: A description of how the employee’s impairment or condition impacts them at work. Note that we’re not looking for medical information or details here, and it needs to be in the employee’s own words (or editable by them).
- Workplace Adjustments provided: A list of the adjustments, including auxiliary aids and non-physical adjustments (such as working arrangements).
- Signatures & dates: slots for the employee and current manager to sign, along with slots for future manager signatures and dates.
That’s it. Put the above into a Word template and job done.
Well, almost – you still need to build it into your workplace adjustments process, and there might be some additional information you want to capture.
You might want to consider capturing the following:
- Is a PEEP (Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan) required? If yes capture whether it is in place (and have a process by which it is shared with your Health & Safety team). H&S teams often appreciate this being captured as it provides a prompt for managers to check on PEEP needs.
- Future review dates and signatures: adjustments should be periodically reviewed to ensure they remain effective. Having a prompt in the passport can help with this. The frequency depends on the situation, e.g. more frequent for people with deteriorating conditions. Every 6 months is a good default.
Who creates the passport?
The team or person that manages workplace adjustments should create the passport, e.g. the Disability Adviser or Workplace Adjustments Case Manager.
In organisations where I’ve implemented a workplace adjustments process I’ve used a Word template that the DA or Case Manager fills out and sends to the employee when their adjustments have been implemented. Making it a Word document means that the employee can edit the Impact section so they are happy with the wording.
Other organisations use interactive PDFs or on-line forms – but my recommendation is to keep it as simple as possible and don’t get hung up on technological solutions.
Who owns the passport and where is it stored?
I believe that the employee should own the passport because it is a tool for them to manage their adjustments. I also believe that they should be responsible for holding the passport as this reinforces that it’s their document.
Some organisations store copies of the passport in their HR system – this can have some advantages, but again I recommend keeping it as simple as possible, and I suspect you also need to be mindful of privacy and data protection.
What’s the scope of usage?
In this article I’ve positioned passports as being a tool for disabled employees, but the truth is they can benefit any employee who needs adjustments in order to be the best they can be in their job, such as those with parental or caring responsibilities.
Democratising adjustments is a fundamental way of creating an inclusive workplace for everybody, and using passports is an important part of a best practice workplace adjustments process.
Get in touch with me if you’d like to discuss workplace adjustments or any other aspect of employing disabled people.
Graeme is chairing the d&i Leaders Disability at Work Summit, taking place on October 1 in London. View agenda.
* This article was first published by Graeme Whippy MBE on Linkedin on 4/3/19. Click here to view.