What NOT To Do If an Employee Requests an Accomodation

What NOT To Do If an Employee Requests an Accomodation

Although the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) went into effect over 20 years ago, there are still challenges in managing the complexities of employee accommodations and accommodation requests.  On the surface, it doesn’t appear to be too intricate: HR receives an accommodation request, you determine if the employee has a qualified disability, and you offer the accommodation and implement it. But there are a few missteps and challenges that can gum up the process and potentially cause problems.

Here are a few pointers on what not to do:

Create a seamless process that requires little review.

This one undoubtedly appears illogical. Shouldn’t there be mechanisms in place that make the process of making employee accommodations completely simple given the rise of HR technology over the past few years? No, is the response. Even if you have a procedure in place, the best practice is to assess each accommodation requested by an employee individually. Examine each circumstance thoroughly taking into account the impairment, necessary job duties, and place of employment, among other things.

Assume that all of your managers are trained on the ADA and ADAAA.

Don’t take it for granted that all of your managers are knowledgeable on the ADA’s technicalities, such as what constitutes a disability and the wide variety of elements that may be considered reasonable accommodations. Hold regular training sessions and make sure managers promptly inform staff of their requests for accommodations so they don’t feel singled out.

Move an accommodation request to the bottom of your work pile because there are no hard deadlines around the ADAAA interactive process.

The ADAAA doesn’t have any set deadlines, but the interactive process’s guiding principle is prompt, transparent communication. So, as soon as you receive a request for accommodations, move quickly to provide it. If a situation happens that puts you under pressure, let the employee know that you are delayed but will start working on it soon.

Forget that extra leave time could be considered a reasonable accommodation.

Do not automatically terminate an employee with a serious health condition once all FMLA leave time has been used. A reasonable accommodation for the employee under the ADA may be more time off. At the conclusion of each FMLA absence, this accommodation has to be evaluated.

Overlook documentation.

Keep yourself from hurriedly looking through emails. Make sure all documentation pertaining to employee accommodations and accommodation requests is stored in a single location so that your team can readily access it. Set yourself up with reminders for the things that need to be completed. Set up reminders for the employee to check in every year to see how things are doing with their accommodations.

Fail to include essential job functions on job descriptions.

Every job description in your company should include a list of key work responsibilities as part of your ADA employee accommodations procedure. This will aid in determining any adjustments or work limits.

There are many things to remember, and this list is by no means exhaustive. There are other additional blunders that can occur with employee accommodations, but the most important thing is to communicate with the employee by maintaining open lines of communication and fostering an accommodating workplace culture.

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Archie Anderson

Archie Anderson is the President and CEO of Optis, where he provides leadership and strategic planning for the company. Archie has more than 20 years of experience in the employee benefits and risk management industries.


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