Employers who invest in effective accommodations with employees who experience a work-limiting … [+]
When an employee’s health situation changes, they may need to request a reasonable accommodation due to long-term effects from a medical condition. For employers, it is vital that your managerial and Human Resources teams are prepared to handle these instances – with a focus on providing an employee with the accommodation they require while balancing the needs of your organization.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines a reasonable accommodation as a modification to a job, work environment, or the hiring process. These adjustments allow an individual with a disability to have an equal opportunity to get a job and perform their job tasks to the same extent as people without disabilities.
Employers can thoughtfully be prepared to handle these requirements with some preparation. Below is some general guidance from Allsup Employment Services (AES), with a list of the top 5 tips for handling a request for accommodation.
Handling a Job Accommodation request due to Disability: 5 Tips
1. Review the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) interactive process. This is a 5-step process that fosters open, honest communication between you and your employee so that your organization can do its best to meet the needs of the individual. If you’re not already familiar with this process, check in with your HR department and be sure to review it. It’s important to have an understanding of it prior to having to use it.
2. Make it easy for the employee to talk with you. Keep in mind that for an employee – sharing their health situation and limitations with you can be intimidating and uncomfortable. Be as open and receptive as you can. For example, you can let the employee know you want to set them up for success in their position. It’s helpful if you relay that your office is a safe, private environment where they can be transparent in talking about their challenges and that any and all conversations about their request is kept strictly confidential.
3. Request the proper documentation. Ask for the proper medical documentation from your employee. It could be as simple as a doctor’s note. One of the Vocational Rehabilitation Case Managers at AES shared a success story with me. One of her clients who worked as a cashier, fractured her ankle and called her, worried that she’d need to quit her job since she could no longer stand all day. The case manager advised her to talk to her employer and let them know her situation. The employer asked for a note from her orthopedic surgeon. Upon receipt of the note, her manager agreed to provide a stool for her to sit on at her cash register while her ankle mended. The stool was already in the store, so this was a simple solution that cost the employer no money and quickly addressed the concern.
4. Work with Human Resources. There will be times when you’ll need to strategize with HR to make sure you come up with the best solution. HR is a partner you can work with to brainstorm and figure out what works best for both the company and the employee. Many times solutions are simple: …….