Accommodating Disabled Employees

Physical disability is no longer an obstacle in getting a job. In fact, a recent report said that employers go as far as possible to accommodate the needs of a person with disability so that they can perform their job’s core functions.

However, some employers worry about the prospect of being scammed by an employee who attempts to use the Americans with Disabilities Act to his or her advantage and at the expense of the employer.

Dealing with disability accommodations

When an employee applies for a disability accommodation, the employers can require a second-even third-medical opinion. The employer’s judgment of such request should not be based on the medical records that the employee submitted, as well as looking for any signs of obvious disabilities.

However, that does not mean accommodating a disabled employee should be a rare event. Note that one in six Americans has some form of disability and many of them are hidden, such as chronic fatigue syndrome and gene mutations.

The employer should also never reveal to the workforce body if the employee is under disability accommodation. Medical-related information of employees is protected by HIPAA standards, making these files only accessible by the HR staff.

How to accommodate applicants with disabilities

An applicant who may have a disability should only be considered for positions for which they are qualified. The applicant should be able to perform the core functions of the job with the help of a reasonable work accommodation. However, the employer does not have the obligation to hire a person with a disability before a person without a disability. Instead, they have the obligation not to discriminate against a person with a disability.

Employers also need to modify their hiring procedures in order to accommodate specific disabilities, such as scheduling an onsite interview for a qualified candidate who may have a hearing loss rather that requiring the person to pass a telephone screen first, as well providing large print, audio tape, or Braille versions of application forms for people who may need them. Sign language interpreters or readers may also be needed during the interview process.

How to accommodate disabled employees

Employers who are responsible and employee-oriented are concerned about accommodating their disabled employees in order for them to perform essential functions of their job.

The ADA states that an employer is required to make a reasonable accommodation to the known disability of an employee if it would not impose undue hardship on the operation of the employer’s business.

Examples of accommodations for disabled employees include modification of work schedules in terms of hours, days, shifts, full- or part-time work; providing a sign language interpreter or a reader when necessary during meetings and training sessions; providing or modifying equipment or devices that are necessary to perform the essential functions of the job; even allowing employees to telecommute from their homes.

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