ADA Compliance Benefits People with Disabilities and Improves the Bottom Line
Director of Compliance
The “International Day of Persons with Disabilities” is celebrated every year on December 3. One of the day’s primary objectives is to promote equal opportunity and mobilize support for the rights, dignity, and well-being of people with disabilities. Employers in the United States can play a big role in advancing this cause, as well as take advantage of the value and talent that people with disabilities bring to the workplace, by complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
The ADA prohibits discrimination based on an employee’s or applicant’s disabilities and requires employers with 15 or more employees to provide reasonable accommodations—changes to the position or workplace that do not cause undue hardship—to allow workers with disabilities to gain, regain, or maintain their jobs. A particularly important accommodation that may enable talented employees with disabilities to continue in their positions is a leave of absence. Leaves that can assist disabled employees include time off to:
Obtain medical treatment.
Time off may be needed for doctor appointments, surgery, psychotherapy, physical or occupational therapy, rehabilitation, or merely to pick up a prescription.
Leave to recuperate from an illness, symptom, or episode related to a disability may be a reasonable accommodation.
Avoid temporary adverse workplace conditions.
A temporary adverse workplace condition such as a broken air conditioner or furnace may require time off or permission to work remotely for workers who are sensitive to heat or cold due to a disability.
Time off may be necessary for employees with disabilities to seek repairs on daily living aids such as a wheelchair, an accessible van, a prosthetic limb, or an orthotic device.
Leave to train a service animal, to receive training in the use of braille, to learn sign language, or to train on other assistive technology may be a reasonable accommodation.
Extend other protected time off.
Employers should consider extending a disabled employee’s medical leave beyond the protected time off permitted under a federal or state leave law as a reasonable accommodation.
In today’s competitive business world employers need workers who can adjust to changing circumstances and, possibly more than any other group, people with disabilities possess this quality. Employing people with disabilities also provides great benefits to companies because it opens the door to a wider pool of skilled workers and studies have shown that customers favor businesses employing people with disabilities. In other words, employing disabled workers will improve your bottom line.
Reasonable accommodations, including leave time, are an important part of the ADA as they give persons with a disabilities equal access to employment opportunities. And good news for employers is that most workplace accommodations do not cost much and have a positive effect on business. Consequently, accessibility to the workforce for people with disabilities should top every employer’s list.
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