Do's and Don'ts for ADA Reasonable Accommodations [Video Blog]

Posted on May 22, 2019 6:00:00 AM

The Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law in 1990 to prevent discrimination against people with disabilities. In 2008, the law was updated to broaden the definition of disability. Among other things, the law requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations for disabled individuals during all phases of employment. Failing to comply can result in costly lawsuits and enforcement actions.

Let’s look at some simple Do’s and Don’ts that can help you avoid common mistakes about reasonable accommodations:

DO begin with the decision to educate yourself. Knowledge of the law will help you prepare, so you can protect your company from liability.

DON’T end the conversation too quickly if you can’t easily identify a reasonable accommodation. These might include working part time, reassigning the employee, or providing an unpaid leave of absence.

DO keep job descriptions up to date, including essential functions. You have a responsibility to reasonably accommodate an employee who can’t perform an essential function. But you are not obligated to eliminate an essential function, such as lifting, standing, or working long hours. Accurate job descriptions can help legally prove which functions are essential and which are not.

DON’T take a manager’s word that a specific function is essential. This can be contested if the issue goes to court. Employers should investigate for themselves and decide whether a function is essential.

DO create and distribute a reasonable accommodation policy to show your commitment to ADA compliance. The policy should direct all reasonable accommodation requests to Human Resources, not supervisors. HR professionals are better equipped to deal with the nuances and legal risks of handling ADA requests.

 


DON’T overuse the undue hardship provision to deny accommodations. Factors such as cost or other employees’ reactions are generally not acceptable reasons for refusing an accommodation.

DO train supervisors to refer reasonable accommodation requests to HR. In addition, they should know how to handle ADA situations in job interviews and daily work with employees.

DON’T discuss details of an employee’s disability with his or her manager. The manager needs to know only about the accommodation being provided. An exception would be a disability that affects how the manager will interact with the employee, such as a hearing impairment.

DO consider other laws applicable to an employee’s disability. For example, a disability under the ADA often also qualifies as a serious health condition under FMLA, so FMLA provisions might come into play.

DON’T outright reject a request because it seems impractical. Follow the process and work toward a resolution.

DO make sure to properly document all accommodation requests, particularly those that are denied. Careful documentation will help you defend your decision in the event of future litigation.

DON’T be tempted to eliminate essential functions of a job, even for a limited time. This can make it harder to argue later that the function is essential for the current or any future employee.

DO take responsibility. Employers are ultimately responsible for investigating possible accommodations. If an employee doesn’t offer suggestions after a request, do try to find an accommodation for them.

DON’T take performance into account when deciding if an accommodation is reasonable. All workers should be treated the same in this process, whether high performers or underachievers.

In closing, remember that the burden has shifted to employers to provide reasonable accommodations and to show care in handling disability issues in the workplace. Keep your organization in compliance by learning about the ADA and the ADA amendments act. This can help protect you from costly lawsuits and penalties down the line.

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Five Childcare Benefits for Working Parents [Video Blog]

Posted on Mar 22, 2019 7:00:00 AM

Time and again, working parents identify childcare as their top concern. As a manager, you recognize that the benefits you offer have a strong effect on how job candidates view your company. Your ability to attract working parents may come down to whether you offer childcare help as a benefit.

Indeed, childcare can be a crippling expense for working parents, with costs for at-home care averaging more than $28,000 a year in the United States. Easing this burden with strong workplace initiatives can help you attract and retain employees. The following strategies can enhance your appeal to employees with children.

1. PTO and flexible scheduling. Paid time off is often used to attract talent, especially millennials. However, it should also be pitched as a family-friendly benefit to working parents. Parents need time off for things like children’s medical appointments, unexpected illnesses, family vacations, and school events. Generous PTO and flexible scheduling make juggling work and home life much easier for families.

2. On-site childcare. This option may be expensive; it will also require considerable buy-in from management. However, on-site care addresses many concerns shared by working parents and could prove to be a “make-or-break” retention benefit for your workforce. Research shows that employees perform better and come to work more regularly when using on-site childcare. Employees also report that on-site childcare improves their ability to concentrate on their jobs.

3. Childcare subsidies. On-site childcare may not be possible. But consider enticing working parents by paying a portion of off-site childcare costs. With childcare ranking as one of largest expenses working families face, offering a subsidy can tip the scales in your favor when employees are weighing career options.

4. Childcare referrals. Even if you can’t afford on-site childcare or a subsidy, you can still help. Consider offering childcare support by establishing a resource network for your employees with children. Gather recommendations and information about local childcare providers and options, and make it readily available.

5. Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs). Many working parents find it hard to balance work and home life, especially after the birth of their first child. This stress can take a toll on their emotional health and work performance. You can help employees navigate this challenging time by offering counseling through an employee assistance program. An EAP is a voluntary, work-based program that offers free and confidential assessments, short-term counseling, referrals, and follow-up services to employees. EAPs address a broad and complex body of issues affecting mental and emotional wellbeing. You can choose the right EAP vendor for your organization’s needs and tailor the program to your workforce. EAPs are usually entirely paid for by the employer. Their benefits are offered to employees as well as their families.

Every working parent is different. No one solution can address all your employees’ needs. But recognizing the importance of childcare is essential. Offering support and solutions can go a long way toward attracting and retaining valued employees.

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What Employers Need to Know About Disability and Religious Accommodations for Employees [Video Blog]

Posted on Oct 12, 2017 7:00:00 AM

In the modern workplace, we are fortunate to embrace diversity in many forms. In all likelihood, your company or organization employs individuals of many different backgrounds and abilities. At times, these differences may require what is known as an accommodation--a change in the work environment (or in the way things are usually done) that enables an employee to perform the duties of his or her job while respecting the employee's disability or religious beliefs or practices. 

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