How to prepare for an improve in requests for accommodation

The pandemic has made a multitude of issues for businesses. As far more workers return to the office — irrespective of whether comprehensive-time or on a hybrid routine — companies will deal with difficult compliance inquiries and, most probable, improved accommodation requests beneath the People in america with Disabilities Act. How need to businesses prepare for these requests?

Lodging requests are most likely to occur in a few unique locations: telework, incapacity promises similar to extended-haul COVID-19, and vaccination procedures.

What you have to have to know

Courtesy / Preti Flaherty

Michael Messerschmidt

Requests for telework as a realistic lodging: It’s most likely that businesses will see an boost in requests to telework as a reasonable lodging. The Equal Work Chance Commission suggests that telework/work at property may perhaps be a variety of realistic accommodation below the ADA due to the fact transforming the location the place perform is done may possibly be a kind of modifying a workplace policy. 

Prior to COVID-19, businesses would argue that an employee’s physical existence in the office was an necessary occupation functionality when confronted with telework sensible lodging requests, but following just about two decades of distant get the job done, it may perhaps be hard for businesses to carry on to argue this. The pandemic has transformed how and the place numerous People in america do the job. Whilst businesses that allowed teleworking during the pandemic do not have to keep on permitting it as soon as worksites reopen, companies have to nevertheless interact in the interactive procedure when faced with such lodging requests.

Prolonged-haul COVID-19 is a new incapacity. Thanks to the pandemic, the Office of Justice, the Department of Wellbeing and Human Solutions, and the EEOC have all stated that “long-haul” COVID-19 may possibly qualify as a disability. Extended-haul COVID-19 includes signs or symptoms that can past for months or months pursuing an infection. These indications incorporate, but are not limited to, tiredness, tiredness, difficulty contemplating or concentrating, shortness of breath, headache, dizziness upon standing, coronary heart palpitations, upper body suffering, cough, joint or muscle pain, depression or stress and anxiety, fever, and loss of style or scent. Further more EEOC guidance is forthcoming, but employers ought to be ready for accommodation requests for extended-haul COVID-19 considerably limiting a single or more of the employee’s big existence activities.

Vaccine mandates and exemption procedures. Court rulings to day confirm that companies can lawfully mandate vaccines, as extended as they present exemptions for accredited good reasons of religion and disability. Disputes in excess of employer exemption procedures and exemption request choices have infiltrated the courts and will continue to do so in 2022. When faced with exemption requests, employers should still be partaking in an interactive approach to explore the explanations driving the request. 

What you can do

  • No matter the bring about, companies can assume to see an maximize in the volume of lodging requests in the coming months. Now is the time to be certain you and your HR team are organized. While each individual personnel and each ask for should be addressed separately, a several basic strategies should help you by way of most instances:
  • Businesses ought to assure they have recognized guidelines and procedures to consider every single accommodation ask for and assess the extent of the hardship, if any, the accommodation could impose on the operation of the enterprise. 
  • When responding to acceptable accommodation requests less than the ADA, companies need to think about them on an individualized, circumstance-by-case foundation and have interaction in an interactive dialogue with the requestor.
  • Employers do not have to grant lodging requests that would have to have important problem or expense.
  • Your current procedures may possibly suffice but, like a anxiety examination, this predicted uptick in activity will expose any regions of lawful vulnerability. Look for counsel from an skilled employment attorney to critique your policies and suggest you on responding to complicated requests.