For businesses with 15 or more employees, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires employers to make “reasonable accommodations” for qualified employees with disabilities. But what exactly does that mean?
Essentially, it means that employers need to take steps to help their disabled employees perform their jobs just as well as their non-disabled counterparts. Here are key ways employers can do that.
Provide Reasonable Accommodations in the Workplace
As mentioned above, the ADA requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for qualified employees with disabilities. So, what constitutes a “reasonable accommodation”? It could be as simple as providing a wheelchair-accessible desk or office space for an employee who uses a wheelchair.
Or it could be something more complex, like modifying equipment or work hours to accommodate an employee’s disability. The key is to work with the employee to figure out what accommodation would best help them do their job effectively.
You may offer them flexible working hours or allow them to work remotely. This will enable them to manage their disability better while still allowing them to remain productive in their role. Plus, those with disabilities are more likely to stay loyal and committed to the organization if their needs are being met.
Provide Disability Insurance
Disability insurance helps employees stay financially secure if they cannot work due to an illness or injury. Employers can offer disability insurance plans as part of their benefits package, allowing disabled employees peace of mind that their income won’t be affected if something happens.
Many people who are disabled and can no longer work may be eligible for long-term disability benefits. LTD benefits can help pay for some of the costs associated with being unable to work, such as medical bills and lost income. To be eligible for long-term disability benefits, you must typically be unable to work for a year or more due to your disability.
If you are considering filing a claim for long-term disability benefits for your employee, it is crucial to understand the process and what you can expect. The first step is to speak with an experienced disability lawyer who can help determine your employee’s eligibility for benefits and guide you through the application process. Then, your employee will need to submit documentation that supports their disability and prove that they are unable to work.
Communicate Openly and Honestly With Your Disabled Employee
One of the most important things you can do as an employer is to communicate openly and honestly with your disabled employee. This means keeping them in the loop on company news, changes to their job duties, etc.
It also means being open to hearing their concerns and suggestions on how to make the workplace more accommodating for them. By maintaining open lines of communication, you can build a strong relationship of trust and respect with your disabled employee.
Here are some tips for communicating with them:
- Be respectful and patient
- Ask questions to understand their needs better
- Allow them to express their feelings without judgment.
- Listen to their suggestions and act on them when appropriate
- Acknowledge any successes or accomplishments they have achieved
Moreover, remember to keep communication channels open throughout the process. This will help you and your employee stay on the same page and work together to create a comfortable and accommodating workplace.
Educate Yourself and Your Employees on Disability Etiquette
Disability etiquette is simply good manners—treating people with disabilities the same way you treat anyone else. Unfortunately, many people are unsure how to interact with someone with a disability.
As an employer, it’s your responsibility to educate yourself and your employees on proper disability etiquette. This will show your commitment to creating a respectful and inclusive workplace and help create a more positive work environment for everyone involved.
Disability etiquette is not only about knowing how to act around someone who has a disability but also about understanding the disability itself. Employers must proactively educate their employees on disability etiquette and the various types of disabilities.
Some things you can do to educate your employees on disability etiquette include:
- Hosting an information session on disability etiquette
- Creating an online course or module on disability etiquette
- Including information on disability etiquette in your onboarding process
- Ensure your Employee Handbook has a section on disability etiquette
- Providing training to managers and supervisors on how to deal with employees with disabilities
The ADA prohibits discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities in all areas of employment, including hiring, firing, pay, promotions, training, and benefits. As an employer, you are responsible for ensuring that your workplace is accessible and accommodating for all your employees—including those with disabilities. By taking measures on proper disability etiquette, you can create an inclusive and respectful workplace.