The Interactive Process

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.

  1. Should be ongoing. Do not stop at the first attempt at a reasonable accommodation, but rather, continue until all possible accommodations are exhausted.
  2. 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.
  3. If the disability or need for accommodation is not obvious, the employer may require the employee to provide medical documentation.
  4. 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