Lots of workers juggle both work and care-giving responsibilities. Those responsibilities extend not only to spouses and children, but also to parents and other older family members, or relatives with disabilities. As a result, many employers have adopted flexible workplace policies that help employees achieve a satisfactory work-life balance. Numerous studies have found that flexible workplace policies enhance employee productivity, reduce absenteeism, reduce costs, and appear to positively affect profits.
Although the ADA doesn’t require an employer to accommodate an employee who must care for a family member who has a disability (the FMLA may require an employer to take such steps), this type of corporate culture is exactly what the ADA is all about when it comes to providing reasonable accommodation. For employees with disabilities, the ADA provides workplace flexibility by requiring employers to provide “reasonable accommodations” that enable employees to perform their jobs.
The ADA simply put, asks employers to be flexible about the way the work gets done. Determining which accommodation will provide that needed support should be made through a flexible "interactive process" between the employer and the individual. Often, these adjustments -- flexible schedules, time off for medical appointments, or changes in communication, feedback and/or supervision -- are not much different from the changes available to any employee. They can benefit everyone, not just the employee with a disability.
For workers with a disability, such changes are often critical to their success. Although some of the adjustments might be different from those that work for other people, they accomplish the same goal -- allowing qualified employees to do the best job they can. These strategies are often just good business practices.
If you already train your managers about the legal obligations that may impact decisions about treatment of workers with care-giving responsibilities, you’re off to a great start in meeting your company’s requirements under the ADA. If you’re not sure how to get started, contact Springboard. Our ADA Team can provide you with easy to understand and practical information that can be incorporated into your training program.
This information should not be construed as “legal advice” for a particular set of facts or circumstances. It is intended only to be a practical guide for participants familiar with this subject. Users should seek appropriate legal advice tailored to address their specific situation.