Reasonable Accommodations: Employees are precious resources – keep them!

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One of my employees just asked for an accommodation because of a disability. What should I do?

The most important thing to remember is that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations so that an employee with a disability can do their job. Have a conversation with your employee. The best solution is usually something the employee comes up with. After all, they live with the disability and have the best understanding of how it affects them and their work.

The word ‘reasonable’ can also stump some people. Who decides what is reasonable…me, you? Again, this should be an interactive process with your employee. Building an elevator in a historic building might not be reasonable, but what about getting an automatic stapler for someone with arthritis? Of course! There is a huge spectrum when it comes to accommodation requests and it is important to work through the process together to balance cost and effectiveness.

Most accommodations cost very little, often nothing at all, and could be helpful for all of your employees. Think about those push-button door openers. They aren’t just for people with mobility challenges. How many times have you been juggling too many things and used them to open a door for you?

There is so much going on now with apps and technology that is can be easy to seek out and find a good resource to help you navigate through the options. Askjan.org is a terrific online resource and the Minnesota STAR program offers excellent advice and solutions. The STAR program also has a loan program so you can try it before you buy it. Nice!

Let’s face it: a good employee is a precious commodity. Consider ways you can keep an employee if a disability makes a reasonable accommodation necessary. If you get stuck, why not call your trusted Vocational Rehabilitation Services Employment Professionals? We are here and happy to help you through the process of providing reasonable accommodations. You can also watch our short Reasonable Accommodation video to take a bigger bite out of learning.

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