What are reasonable accommodations?

The year 2020 marks the 30th anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act. This law affirms the rights of all employees to enjoy equal opportunities even with a disability. The ADA requires you, as an employer, to safeguard these rights by making reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities.

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a reasonable accommodation is a change to the way of performing a job or the environment in which work takes place for the benefit of an employee with a disability. Generally speaking, you must provide reasonable accommodations to any workers who require them if you employ at least 15 people. However, if you can prove that the accommodation would impose an undue hardship, an exception may apply.

Modified workplace policy

You may be able to accommodate an employee with a disability by modifying a policy in the workplace with which he or she cannot comply. The law only requires you to modify the policy for the employee’s benefit. You do not have to apply the modification to the entire staff.

Job restructuring

You can alter the way that an employee performs a job task as a reasonable accommodation for his or her disability. Another example of job restructuring is to assign minor job tasks that an employee cannot perform due to the disability to his or her co-workers. You can then assign the employee a different minor job function instead.

Additional leave

An employee’s right to reasonable accommodation supersedes any “no-fault” leave policy that you may have in place. Therefore, you cannot terminate an employee for requesting or taking unpaid leave if he or she needs it because of a disability. However, if you can provide an accommodation that would address the issue while requiring the patient to stay on the job, you can make it in lieu of leave.