Disability Accommodation: Disability In The Workplace

Disability in the workplace can become an issue when it hinders the operations of your business. However, if people with disabilities are provided with appropriate disability accommodations, such problems may be overcome easily. Learning about disability accommodation needs of an individual helps an employer retain valuable employees. If proper employment accommodations are followed, there are various government programs which can help a firm arrange proper disabled accommodation. People with disabilities are entitled to an equal opportunity even at the workplace and such disability accommodations help them succeed better in life.

Employment Accommodation Requirements

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) mandatorily requires employers to make reasonable disability accommodation if they employ more than 15 people at the workplace. The purpose of this law is to make it easier for people with disabilities to work by making minor adjustments to fit their needs. Even though it is compulsory to abide by this law, if such disabled accommodation causes undue hardship to the employer in the form of financial or operational issues, such arrangements will not constitute as mandatory. Each case is unique and must be processed individually. Providing disability accommodations like readily available assistive technologies, making minor changes to work areas, assigning translators and readers, would not cause undue hardship to the employer in most cases. However, costly equipments, making huge architectural changes to a site or expensive personal assistants may be regarded as unnecessary and be dismissed.

Learning Disability Accommodation

Declaring disability in the workplace can become a delicate issue and thus precaution must be taken to address it appropriately. When disabled accommodations are made by someone, certain things must be kept in mind in order to continue running your business smoothly while abiding by all disability laws.

  • Confidentiality: It is important that you respect the confidentiality of the medical records provided by people with disabilities requesting disability accommodation. Records of such documents must be kept in separate files, available only to those who are directly in charge or employment accommodation procedures.
  • Qualification: The employer must determine whether or not the specific tasks can be performed by an individual if proper disability accommodation was provided for him. While disability discrimination in the workplace is illegal, the person must be fully qualified in order to receive requested disability accommodation.
  • Determine Needs: After filing disability accommodation paperwork, it always helps to talk to the individual to determine his specific needs. Learning disability accommodation requirements of the individuals helps make appropriate arrangements.
  • Monitor: After implementing the required disability accommodations, occasional check-ups must be made to see if the employee’s needs are being met with. Disability in the workplace need not be a concern if it is monitored properly.

Getting Help with Disabilities Accommodation

  • Job Accommodation Network (JAN): The JAN deals with disability in the workplace and is a free service provided by the US Department of Labor in order to increase employability of people with disabilities. They provide advice and technical assistance to individuals about disability accommodation.
  • Tax Credits:  The Government provides a few tax credits to employers to help them incur the costs incurred by employing people with disabilities.

Small businesses can take advantage of the Disabled Access Tax Credit which allows up to 50% of eligible expenses.

Other businesses may also benefit from Architectural Barrier Tax Credit by receiving up to $15000 a year for incurring costs due to physical changes made to the firm for disabilities accommodation.

People with disabilities have a hard time adjusting to regular activities of life due to their conditions. Making disability accommodations for them at the workplace provides them with an opportunity to use their skills as professionals like everyone else.  Disability in the workplace can be easily taken care of by minor adjustments and additions to help a person with a disability function better. With the help of certain government programs, disability discrimination in the workplace can be avoided and people with disabilities can become strong, productive individuals.

References:

  1. U.S. Department of Labor
  2. Workplace Accommodation Policy – The Workplace Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center
  3. Job Accommodation Network – Office of Disability Employment Policy
  4. Job Opportunities for People with Disabilities – U.S. Office of Personnel Management

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