Employer Frequently Asked Questions
A reasonable accommodation is any change or adjustment to a job or work environment that permits a qualified applicant or employee with a disability to participate in the job application process, to perform the essential functions of the job, or to enjoy benefits and privileges of employment equal to those enjoyed by employees without disabilities.
The employee or intern with a disability is always your best resource in determining the best workplace accommodation. Your employee or intern knows what is appropriate to succeed on the job, just listen to their suggestions and advice. Get their input and work with him/her as close as possible in determining the best solution for everyone involved.
An employer is required to provide a reasonable accommodation to a qualified applicant or employee with a disability unless the employer can show that the accommodation would be an undue hardship – that it would require significant difficulty or expense.
The employer is responsible for providing on-site accommodations in most cases. Often times, an employee will have their own adaptive equipment or assistive technology allowing full job capabilities. Usually a job accommodation does not require removing or changing physical barriers, but merely altering one’s time schedule or changing a particular job task.
5. I want to do the right thing to help an employee, but I’m worried how much it may cost to provide an accommodation.
Studies show that more than half of all accommodation costs are less than $500, and over 20% cost the employer nothing.
Yes, there are a number of financial resources available to assist businesses who paid for accommodation costs. By law, a business is only responsible for providing a reasonable accommodation for employees without creating an undue hardship to itself. Technical assistance is also available to provide information and detailed explanation in understanding the rights of employees and employers in regard to workplace accommodations.
7. Where can I find out more about employer tax credits and other incentives offered to employers who hire people with disabilities?
There are a variety of incentives available to employers who may qualify that make an honest effort in hiring people with disabilities, along with other diverse groups. For example, the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) through the Department of Labor is an employer friendly benefit for hiring job seekers most in need of employment. Such tax credits can help employers reduce the cost of doing business and requires little paperwork.
To learn more about tax incentives for employers check:
Definitely. There are many instances where altering one’s work schedule or allowing flex- time provides a satisfactory means of creating an employer accommodation. In addition, such use of altering work schedules costs the employer nothing. Listed are similar yet effective accommodations practices:
- Altering work schedules or job tasks
- Reassignment to a vacant position
- Allowing varied work breaks
- Shifting employee responsibilities
- Providing private or personal work areas
- Adjusting or modifying exams, training materials or policies
- Allowing off-site work
- Providing readers or interpreters
- Allowing flex time for medical reasons
9. Does an employer have to make non-work areas used by employees, such as cafeterias, lounges, etc. accessible to employees with disabilities?
Yes. The requirements to provide reasonable accommodations covers all service areas, programs, and non-work facilities provided by the employer. If making an existing facility accessible creates an undue hardship, the employer must provide a comparable facility that enables the same benefits and privileges to those enjoyed by other employees.
An employer cannot require an applicant with a disability to take a medical examination before being offered a job. After a job offer, an employer can condition the offer on passing a required medical exam, but only if all entering employees have to take the same exam. Once a person is hired, an employer cannot ask the employee to take a medical exam or ask questions about one’s disability unless it is related to the job. An employer can ask an applicant with a disability to describe or demonstrate, with or without an accommodation, how they will perform the job duties.
One of the biggest fears of an employer is how to act around a person with a disability, and saying the right thing. For example, what is proper etiquette? Do I move furniture around for someone using a wheelchair? What if I say something I shouldn’t? These are all normal feelings when you first meet someone with a disability. But remember, many people you meet or interview have no overt disability because their disability is ‘hidden.’
There are certain etiquette tips that guide you through the protocol and best practices when interviewing, hiring, and retaining persons with disabilities. If you make a mistake, don’t worry. The applicant or employee with a disability will understand.