Reasonable Accommodation - An adjustment to job duties, work schedule, leave or worksite (ergonomic or change in workstation) that enables a “qualified employee with a disability” to perform the essential functions of the position. * - It does not mean that management must lower the standards of work for the position or change the job requirements.
An Individual with a Disability Has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities (walking, hearing, seeing, etc); Has a record of such an impairment; or Is regarded as having such an impairment.
Qualified Individual with a Disability (QID) Individual with a disability who, with or without RA, can perform the essential functions of the job in question without endangering the health and safety of him/herself or others and – who either meets the qualification requirements or – meets the appointment criteria under a special appointing authority
QID continued… The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires employers to provide adjustments or modifications to enable people with disabilities to enjoy equal employment opportunities unless doing so would be an undue hardship (i.e., a significant difficulty or expense). Accommodations vary depending on the needs of an individual with a disability.
More about QID… Medical documentation may be requested if there is a reasonable belief: – The employee may be unable to perform their job; – They pose a direct threat to his/herself or others; – To justify the use of sick leave; – Or for reasonable accommodations.
What is a direct threat… A direct threat is a significant risk of substantial harm to the health or safety of the individual or others that cannot be eliminated or reduced by reasonable accommodations. Therefore an individual assessment shall be completed.
What is the Interactive Process? Requires personal discussion between the supervisor and the employee about the accommodation needs. Discussions should be in person when necessary. Written communication alone is not satisfactory. Requires an ongoing dialogue to keep employee informed about the request.
A Reasonable Accommodation can be: Modifications or adjustments necessary to enable a qualified individual with a disability to perform the essential functions of the job Modifications or adjustments that enable employees with disabilities to enjoy equal benefits and privileges of employment (such as removing physical barriers in an office) Modifications or adjustments to a job application process
Supervisors and managers should be familiar with the process for requesting a RA. – Requests usually made to the first line supervisor – No special format or words to initiate process – Oral requests should be followed up with written request – Written requests should be done on form SSA-501 – Requests can be made through the “reasonable accommodation wizard” online – Reasonable Accommodation is not necessarily a one time consideration. – Impairments can become more severe as people age, requiring changes in the accommodation
What if during any discussion with an employee (performance, leave, conduct, etc.) there is mention of a medical condition like “I’m stressed”? – After the performance discussion, management should explore RA – Management should engage in an “informal, interactive process” – Determine specific limitations that exist – Determine how these limitations affect the employee’s ability to do their job – Explore potential accommodations that may overcome those limitations – Engage in on-going communication – DO NOT IGNORE
Denials of RA Requests WHO Denies the Request? – Level 1 DM’s in the field – OM’s in PCO – TSC Managers – Center Managers in MOS Components
Reasons for Denying a RA Request – RA would impose an undue hardship on the Agency – Requested accommodation unreasonable or illogical – Employee not a “qualified individual with a disability” If employee not a QID because cannot perform essential job functions, Agency must consider reassignment to a funded vacant position
Additional Considerations – CREO staff must be consulted on all proposed denials – Denials must be made in writing (CREO will provide suggested language) – Copy of denial memo and supporting documentation should be forwarded to CREO
Recordkeeping – The regions have responsibility for tracking info relating to RA requests and submitting it to OCREO yearly – It is important that all finalized requests for RA, including documentation and notices, be mailed or faxed to the CREO staff. – Applies to all components for all RA requests, including those approved at the local level – Does not include temporary adjustments
Temporary Adjustments? If a temporary adjustment is appropriate (broken leg, chemotherapy, recovering from illness or surgery, etc.), management must have written documentation. This should include: Description of the temporary adjustment Begin date and end date Signature from management official and employee CREO is not usually involved but managers may want to call for guidance in regards to evaluating medical evidence
What if the employee requests an extension of this temporary adjustment? – Management should evaluate the request – If approved, again document everything in writing – Management should avoid situations where a “temporary adjustment” becomes more permanent – Consider a formal RA at this time
WORKERS’ COMPENSATION What is it? It is an injury or illness caused by work factors.
“I’ve been having pain in my forearm” or “I just fell but I think I’m o.k.” Do you know what to do?
WORKERS’ COMPENSATION What do you do? Advise your employee that he/she has a right to file a claim.
Allowing an employee to work during the recovery period after sustaining a work related injury or illness: May be full-time work or less than Likely that employee is not able to perform essential functions of the position or, if able, may be doing so for fewer hours per day Usually, the employee’s medical condition has not yet reached permanent and stationary status meaning continued medical improvement is anticipated Employee Can Work Limited Duty – What is it?
Does OWCP Limited Duty mean RA? NO. Even if an employee with an occupational injury has a "disability" as defined by a workers' compensation statute, s/he may not have a "disability" for ADA purposes. Limited duty may eliminate essential functions but reasonable accommodation cannot. Usually the adjustments are temporary until the individual’s condition improves.