Ways for Employers to Handle ADA Workplace Accommodations

It takes a lot to run a business. Aside from aspects like costs and marketing, you also need to stay up to date on federal regulations from conducting business itself to managing employees. For instance, are you familiar with current ADA workplace accommodations? 

It’s something that tends to get overlooked since it isn’t a daily concern for most employers. However, knowing how to handle these accommodations is essential. If you’re looking for an in-depth crash course in ADA, here’s everything you need to know. 

The Basics

The Americans with Disabilities Act requires you to provide reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities, allowing them to perform their essential job functions. The three critical aspects of this act reveal how you can handle workplace accommodation.

Disability

Under the ADA, a disability includes any mental or physical impairment. These could be lifelong impairments or those brought on by a personal injury. It is up to your employee to disclose this aspect of their lives with you, though you will find some more obvious than others. Once your employee does bring up their disability with you, it’s vital that you have an open discussion about it. 

The more you and your employee talk about their disability, the easier it is for you to understand what types of accommodations they might need. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, especially if you don’t fully understand the difficulties your employee faces on a daily basis. 

Essential Functions

After the conversation, take what you’ve learned and consider how their disability affects their job duties. The ADA requires that accommodations be made for “essential functions,” which include any activities that are fundamental to the position. 

You can easily determine these based on why the position exists, the skill level or expertise needed for that position, and how many employees are available to perform the same functions. An employee with a prosthetic arm, for instance, might need an accommodation to help them type. 

Reasonable Accommodations

This is where most employers become confused. Since each employee’s case is different, it isn’t always easy to determine what accommodations a disability may require. Before you find yourself accused of an ADA violation, follow these simple steps. 

First, what does the employee’s doctor recommend? Most physicians offer a recommendation in the paperwork your employee will give you. These could range from text to speech software to improved accessibility. 

Second, what is your employee asking for? As long as their request aids them with an essential job function, it is considered a reasonable accommodation. This is where you can take what you’ve learned about their disability and apply a solution that meets the needs of everyone involved. 

Finally, keep an open mind. Some accommodations are simple, like accessible parking or service animals. Others are less common, such as equipment changes and adjustments to the work schedule. Even if you’ve never heard of a form of accommodation, there’s no harm in implementing it as long as it is effective. 

Remember that ADA workplace accommodations are an ongoing process. It might take a little trial and error before you and your employee find something that works. Keep an open line of communication with your disabled employees to ensure you remain ADA compliant and that they can perform their job duties to the best of their ability.