TLDR; While the accommodations process looks different at most organizations, be sure to follow proper procedures to avoid a misstep.
If your employee informs you that their disability is interfering with their ability to perform their job tasks, it’s important that you follow the proper procedures to avoid misstepping.
Step One: Identify the need for accommodation
Do not inquire about the need for an accommodation unless there is evidence that the employee has an impairment affecting their job performance.
Ask the employee if there is any way in which the employer can assist the employee in the performance of job tasks. It is not necessary to reference the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) at this point in time.
If the employee declines the need for assistance, there is no need for further action, and the employee may be held to the same performance and conduct standards as all other employees.
Step Two: Engage in an interactive process
If your employee discloses the need for assistance or accommodations due to their disability, you must engage in an interactive process which includes:
Step Three: If necessary, obtain medical documentation
70% of disabilities are ‘invisible’ or ‘non-apparent’. If the disability or the need for accommodation is not obvious, as an employer, you have the right to ask for reasonable documentation about the employee’s disability or functional limitations.
Make sure to have the employee sign a medical release form before requesting any documentation from a healthcare provider. It is considered best practice to provide the employee with an ADA medical accommodation form, as well as a copy of the employee’s job description which can be reviewed and signed by an appropriate medical provider. It is important that the healthcare provider indicates which major life activities are limited.
Step Four: Determine if there is a ‘direct threat’
According to the ADA, a ‘direct threat’ is a significant risk of substantial harm. Assessing this should be based solely on medical analysis or objective evidence. This should never be assessed based on speculation.
Step Five: Retain documentation
Record keeping is an important and often misunderstood step for employers. Be sure to identify and document which reasonable accommodation was provided. In the case that a request was denied, document the reason an accommodation was not needed or why the request was denied. All medical information must be kept separate from the employee’s file. Therefore, you can not store any of this information in your HRIS such as Workday, Rippling, Gusto, etc.
Using Disclo, you won’t have to worry about mismanaging this process. Our software allows you to collect disability disclosures in a safe and compliant manner, verify the legitimacy of a request, and case manage / record keep. Book a free demo today to learn more.