When an employee returns to work after suffering a brain injury, under section 20(4) of the Equality Act 2010, you may need to adapt their physical working environment to enable them to carry out tasks independently.
In addition to the effect on their cognitive abilities, their body may also have been affected by the injury. This could be anything from a slight weakness in one limb, to an inability to walk or to use limbs at all.
Imagine, for example, an employee who has suffered a stroke and has ongoing weakness in the left side of their body, mainly in their left leg. They are able to walk, but struggle with stairs and need to use a walking stick for stability.
In this case, you would need to ensure that there is sufficient space for them to navigate safely in their working environment. This could involve ensuring that walkways are wide enough and free of anything that could create a risk of them falling.
It may also be necessary to ensure that all stairs have banisters on both sides and that there are grab rails in appropriate places, such as in an accessible toilet.
Consulting with your employee about the necessary adjustments to their physical work environment is essential. A more formal assessment and guidance from an occupational therapist will be beneficial in some circumstances, to help both of you understand what will be required.
It’s important that you are also aware of your legal obligations to make reasonable adjustments, and that you seek advice from a specialist in employment law.