If a sales representative who spends most of his day in a company car has a neck injury that makes sitting in the car for long periods uncomfortable, is the employer responsible for providing an ergonomic back support to make the sitting position more comfortable, or is that the responsibility of the worker?
Should it be treated the same as providing an ergonomically suitable chair at an office desk, or does the fact that the worker has a personal injury put the responsibility on to him to provide for his own requirements?
As an employer, you are required to make reasonable adjustments for any of your workers with a disability under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (Cth) (the Act).
Disability has been broadly interpreted to include temporary illnesses and injuries, and would likely include your worker’s neck injury.
The only exception to making reasonable adjustments in the workplace would be where an adjustment imposes an unjustifiable hardship on an employer (defined in section 11 of the Act). Unjustifiable hardship would be determined in light of all the relevant circumstances in your particular case; however, it is likely that providing an ergonomic back support for the company car would not impose unjustifiable hardship for your business and would be considered a reasonable adjustment for your employee’s injury.
This is because the company car constitutes part of the workplace, and your obligation to make reasonable adjustments extends to the company car.