Workplace adjustments application hasn’t progressed for 11 months

December 2023

Ida* has been a part-time case worker for 20 years. A few years before starting the role, she was diagnosed with a sensory form of a neurological condition. It affects her hands, feet, balance and mobility, and she experiences constant muscle pain, numbness and tingling. She tires easily and needs a regular sleep cycle to maximise her health and energy.

Ida’s role involves shift work, answering phone calls and doing administrative tasks such as note-taking and creating records. Since COVID-19, Ida has worked from home and feels “comfortable and productive” doing so. Working from home removes a range of challenges that she experiences if she needs to negotiate public transport and carry work equipment.

The workplace adjustments Ida needs to work at her best are:

  • a chair with a good back and arm support
  • flexible working arrangements such as predictable days off to help her organise medical and therapy appointments, regular shift start and finish times, and regular breaks
  • to continue working from home, as her team is now expected to return to the office one day each week.

Ida wasn’t aware of her department’s workplace adjustments passport process until she joined the Disability Employee Network (DEN).

“When I first had to ask for what I needed, I felt like I was lost in a desert... no one seemed to know what the policy or process was and there seemed no way to find out,” Ida says.

Ida says a lot seems to depend on what the managers know about the passport. “I think proper, organised training for managers would help, so they understand workplace adjustments and the process.”

“I asked my manager to invite a DEN representative to a meeting to be my support person and to tell us about workplace adjustments, and the DEN encouraged and helped me to put in the formal passport application,” Ida says.

Ida submitted her application in December 2022, but so far it has not progressed from “draft” in the system. She doesn’t know why, and she’s unsure what the next steps or timeline should be. Ida says she feels stressed, frustrated, and tired.

Ida says funding for her department to buy her a new chair was approved within days through a separate application to the federal government’s Job Access scheme in July 2023. The chair sat with the supplier for more than 4 months, before Ida finally received it recently. Ida says “there was an issue with the invoice, maybe due to system changes. No one knew who was responsible for it and the person who originally handled it has left.”

“I feel like there should be a role or person dedicated to workplace adjustments so if I need to get some advice, to ask something, I know who to go to. Someone who can explain the steps in the process. This is how it works. This is where you need to apply. And provide feedback on your application, maybe even help you prepare it.”

“It would be good to have a meeting soon after you apply for your passport, so you know what will happen next and how long it might take. There are no timeframes.”

Ida acknowledges the valuable role and efforts of the DEN but suggests more all-staff communication would ensure everyone is aware of the support available.

She encourages other staff who might be in a similar position to be proactive and advocate for themselves, ask for advice and support, and talk to others who have a workplace adjustments passport.

*Name has been changed to protect the privacy of the individual

Information alert

For more workplace adjustment information, NSW Government managers and employees can visit the Public Service Commission website or contact their Diversity & Inclusion, Work, Health & Safety or HR teams. You may also wish to reach out to your Disability Employee Network (DEN).

If you have trouble accessing workplace adjustments or experience disability discrimination at work, please contact Anti-Discrimination NSW on 1800 670 812.

Last updated:

01 Dec 2023

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