The Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act, introduced in 2008, requires employers to think broadly by consistently accommodating employees with any kind of condition to ensure they have the right support to help them be productive in the workplace. Almost 10 years later, employers are often still confused by the intricacies of ADAAA. Many are intimidated by where to start when an employee needs accommodations assistance, and because of that, could be waiting too long to provide assistance. However, timeliness is now more important than ever.
Mishandling, delaying or refusing accommodations could result in an employee-filed compliant with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission — or worse — a lawsuit for failing to accommodate a disabled employee. To help your clients avoid these repercussions and quell their anxieties about helping employees under the ADAAA, you can serve as a valuable resource. Consider how to help increase client confidence by helping employers consider accommodations with these guidelines in mind:
- Timely review: Your clients need to review disability claims thoroughly for ADAAA compliance, and in a timely manner. Assist clients with this first step by helping them understand the importance of reviewing the request as soon as possible. Delaying review could be seen by an employee as rejecting their request or need for accommodations.
- Thorough communication: HR managers aren’t privy to an employee’s medical information, which can help address an employee’s needs. That’s where you can connect your client with their disability insurance provider to help. Some disability carriers provide consultants to keep the conversation between your client and their employee open and ongoing. As part of this connection, the disability carrier will help by asking basic questions of the employee: What are your needs and how does your condition impact your ability to do your work?
- Assessing the situation: A consultant from a disability carrier can communicate directly with the employee’s medical team to gather additional information about the employee’s condition to further assess the employee’s needs and gauge when they can consider returning to work. The information gathered through the consultant can help create an accommodation plan for the employee.
- Providing support: Whether it’s a modified schedule or ergonomic accommodations in the workplace to help reduce the employee’s symptoms and boost productivity, the consultant can help with everything from sourcing equipment to coordinating installations. This can help take the time needed to coordinate accommodations — and pressure — off your client.
Having resources and knowing the required steps for addressing claims while remaining compliant and ensuring consistency are key to convincing old-school HR managers to take on a new-school way of thinking. Rather than seeing an accommodation for an employee returning to work from a disability or leave as a hindrance, you can help HR managers view it as an individualized solution. That change in thinking can help your clients comply with ADAAA and help preserve their most valuable assets — their employees.
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