This article serves as a general overview of how to accommodate employees with varying needs in the workplace. It also includes some examples of how to do so.
What Are Reasonable Accommodations?
Reasonable accommodations can be made to accommodate a person with a disability. It can include a change in the job or the way the job is performed. The accommodations are only considered to be “reasonable” if they don’t create a direct threat or undue hardship for the employee or employer.
Individuals With Disabilities Defined
The Americans with Disabilities Act defines a disability as any condition that substantially limits a person’s life activities. This act would allow individuals to get reasonable accommodations if they show a disability. Individuals who are regarded as having a disability but are not disabled will not be qualified to receive the same accommodations.
Essential Functions- What Are They?
Essential functions are the job duties that a person must perform to be qualified for a job. These are the fundamental duties of the position and the reason the job exists. Some examples of essential functions include whether the job title and duties require specific skills or expertise and the number of people who can perform the same job duties. The Americans with Disabilities Act requires that employers with more than 15 employees provide reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities.
Reasonable Accommodations Can Be Implemented In Different Ways
When it comes to accommodating an employee with a disability, the employer must consider many factors such as the employee’s position, the environment they work in and their request. Reasonable changes include changing job tasks, allowing a flexible schedule and adjusting equipment. Service animals may also be allowed in a work environment that typically doesn’t allow animals.
Process Of Determining Reasonable Accommodations
According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, each reasonable accommodation request must be considered on its own merits. This section also reviews the various phases of the accommodation process.
Dialogue Between Employee And Employer
After an employee reveals they have a disability, it is important to start the accommodation process in the right way. This often involves identifying a problem with their job duties and/or benefits, as well as explaining how this is affecting their work.
The goal of this dialogue is to get to know the person, what their experience has been and what their expectations are. This step can also help the employer plan the next steps.
All participants must maintain a level of confidentiality when discussing accommodations. This confidentiality includes co-workers. It is not uncommon for accommodations to be shared with co-workers without explanation. If the accommodation need is not obvious, then the employee may need to provide documentation from a healthcare professional.
Accommodations Need To Be Effective
Both the employee and the employer play an important role in the process of finding accommodation. The employer should participate in this process to ensure their accommodation is effective in addressing the needs of the employee with a disability.
Agreed Upon Reasonable Accommodation Needs To Be Implemented
An employer should develop a plan to implement an accommodation that will work seamlessly for the employee. This should include training for the employee. The employer and employee should continue communicating to see if the accommodations are working. If they are not, the employer should make adjustments.
Documentation Should Be Done Concerning Dates and Actions Taken For Success
All parties involved in the reasonable accommodation process should ensure they have a record of their actions and how they were implemented. This helps find areas where changes should be made or added.