Employing People with Disabilities, part 2

Jamie Charter
June 29, 2007 — 1,840 views  
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This is the second article in a series regarding employing people with disabilities. The purpose in writing this series is to enhance employment opportunities for people with disabilities, through dispelling myths and providing some tools. In the first article, we explored some of the barriers to hiring from the employer's viewpoint. We also discussed some of the concerns expressed by job applicants through the employee's viewpoint. We will now continue our discussion by reviewing the term essential functions and then we will find out about reasonable accommodation. Essential Functions are therefore, the fundamental job duties of the position for which the applicant is interviewing. It is important to focus on the purpose of the job duty and the result, rather than the manner in which it is performed. How do you determine essential functions? 1.What degree of expertise of skill is needed to perform the job? 2.Are other employees in your workplace required to perform the same function? 3.Does the position exist to perform the function? 4.How many other people in the workplace are available to perform the function? 5.Would removing the function change the job? How is Reasonable Accommodation defined? It is a modification or adjustment to the job, the work environment, or the manner in which things are usually done. A reasonable accommodation enables qualified people with disabilities to perform essential functions. Deciding on a reasonable accommodation is an Interactive Process. PROVIDING ACCOMMODATIONS FOR AN EXISTING EMPLOYEE: The employee must request the reasonable accommodation. The employer can ask about the need for accommodation only if: 1. The employee discloses a disability the employer believes will require an accommodation. 2. The employer observes some factor during an interview they believe will require an accommodation. 3. The employee discloses the need for an accommodation. Here are some tips on the process of exploring reasonable accommodation: 1. Determine if the individual has a disability. 2.Is the limitation related to the disability? 3.Is the employee a "qualified individual"? 4. Determine the impact of the disability on performing the essential functions. 5.Determine what specific accommodations are needed. 6. Determine if Accommodation is reasonable. 7. Implement the accommodation. 8. Determine if the accommodation works, by re-evaluating periodically. Forms of Reasonable Accommodation: Reasonable accommodation can be accomplished through: * Job restructuring, modified, or part-time work schedule, * Purchase, installing or modification of equipment or workstation, auxiliary aids and services or *Reassignment to a vacant position. *Flexible personal leave policies. *Modifying an application and exam procedure and/or training materials. Reasonable Accommodation does not include: *Elimination of an essential function. *Lowering production standards. *Promoting to a higher position. *Creating a new position. *Providing personal use items (eyeglasses, hearing aids, wheelchairs, prosthetic limbs). Often, employers are concerned about accommodation costs, believing it will exceed their budgetary constraints. Accommodations do not necessarily have to be costly, to be effective. It is important, for employers to consider several more factors when considering reasonable accommodation and the impact on their business. Undue Hardship: An action that is "unduly costly, extensive, substantial or that would fundamentally alter the nature or operation of the business." What constitutes an undue hardship? If a reasonable accommodation exceeds the bounds of practicality, it may be considered an undue hardship. These are determined on a case-by-case basis, using these criteria: The cost and nature of the accommodation. The overall financial resources of the facility and employer. Direct Threat: An individual with a disability may be excluded if she/he poses a direct threat to the health or Safety of others (or self). MYTHS VS. REALITY Myth: Accommodations are too expensive. Reality: Approximately 85% of jobsite accommodations cost less than $1,000. Myth: A person with a disability cannot get to work. Reality: There is a wide variety of transportation options. Myth: A worker with a disability has a higher rate of absence. Reality: studies show workers with disabilities use less sick time than other workers. Myth: A worker with a disability will have trouble adjusting to a changing work environment. Reality: Workers with disabilities have learned how to adapt, overcome barriers and adversity and are flexible. Myth: people with disabilities have trouble meeting performance standards. Reality: According to a study conducted by the Dupont Corporation, they conclude that 91% of workers with disabilities achieved higher than average performance on the job. Remember: People with disabilities want the same opportunity and chance as everyone else. Author Jamie Charter has been providing employment and litigation consulting services for 23 years through Charter and Company in Soquel, California. Jamie is Certified as a Professional in Disability Management, (CPDM) and is a State of California Independent Vocational Evaluator (IVE). Jamie is also an accomplished writer and editor, with many published articles in employment related issues in wide-reaching media arenas. Jamie can be reached at [email protected]

Jamie Charter

Charter and Company

Jamie Charter, consultant, trainer and author, has been providing employment and litigation consulting services for 23 years through Charter and Company employment resource consultants in Soquel, California. Areas of specialization include development and implementation of disability management programs, case management, EEOC/FEHA/ADA consultation, return-to-work facilitation, CalPers job description services, job analyses, conducting training seminars for employer groups on sexual harassment prevention and discrimination and litigation /expert witness services in Forensics.