Among the best practices sited is having a “centralized accommodation fund” to pay for any accommodations that have an associated cost (56% said this practice is “very effective”) according to a SHRM/Cornell recent study of accommodation practices in publicly owned, for-profit entities and companies that employ 25,000 employees or more.
A centralized accommodation fund is a pooling of agency resources that can be an effective way to finance accommodations for workers with disabilities by decreasing the costs of providing necessary equipment, assistive technology, and services to workers. But remember, exhaustion of funds budgeted to this fund is not necessarily an excuse(undue hardship)that can be used to refuse accommodation to another worker with a disability that needs one to be successful in their job. Every request for reasonable accommodation should be evaluated separately to determine if it would impose an undue hardship, taking into account:
- The nature and cost of the accommodation needed;
- The overall financial resources of the business; the number of persons employed by the business; and the effect on expenses and resources of the business;
- The impact of the accommodation on the business.
No complicated formula needs to be used to set the budget for the central accommodation fund. Many companies allocate a ballpark figure and increase the budget if necessary. If you are considering implementing this best practice, make sure you take a creative and flexible approach, establish an administrative mechanism and periodically evaluate the fund’s effectiveness so that costs of an accommodation being assigned to a line manager’s budget are minimized.
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.