What do you do if an employee reports a disability? The first step is to begin the interactive process in a timely manner. The interactive process must start when an employee request an accommodation or the need for an accommodation is apparent. A reasonable accommodation is assistance or changes to a position or workplace that would help that employee perform their job despite having a disability. Below are some tips for an effective interactive process.
- Should be ongoing. Do not stop at the first attempt at a reasonable accommodation, but rather, continue until all possible accommodations are exhausted.
- Ask for the employee's suggestions on what they feel would be effective accommodations. This should be a collaborative effort between both the employee and employer to determine what accommodations can be implemented.
- If the disability or need for accommodation is not obvious, the employer may require the employee to provide medical documentation.
- Keep the interactive process well-documented with meeting dates, people involved, and reasonable accommodation suggestions in the case the employee claims that the employer did not do enough to find a reasonable accommodation.
Examples of reasonable accommodation include:
- Providing devices that could help with the employee's work
- Pairing with another employee
- Reduction or modification in work schedule
- Additional time off
- Making facilities accessible
- Redesigning job to eliminate non-essential functions
- Working from home
- Unpaid leave or extension of FMLA/CFRA leave