Employers want to hire the best candidate for a position and keep qualified employees in their current positions with the company. Sometimes, though, an employee has a disability that makes it difficult for them to do their job without an accommodation.
Reasonable accommodations in the workplace
A disabled employee is one who has a physical or mental condition that substantially limits a major life activity. As an employer, you must provide a reasonable accommodation to help disabled employees perform their current job duties.
A reasonable accommodation is a change to the way employees are hired, a change in the way their job is done, or a change in the employee’s work environment. What is important to remember is that a reasonable accommodation allows a disabled employee to do the essential functions of their position at work and that the disabled employee has equal employment opportunities in the workplace.
It is important to note, however, that you are not required to implement reasonable accommodations that would pose an undue hardship.
What is an undue hardship?
As an employer, you do not need to implement any accommodations that would cause you to suffer an undue hardship. An undue hardship is anything that would impose significant difficulties or expenses upon you. What qualifies as an undue hardship involves comparing the nature and cost of the proposed accommodation in light of your size, resources and structure of doing business.
There is no bright line on what constitutes an undue hardship — it is determined on a case-by-case basis. What is reasonable for a large employer with significant resources is not always reasonable for a smaller employer that does not have as many resources.
If you determine a proposed accommodation would impose an undue hardship, you have to try to find an accommodation that will work for you and the disabled employee. Alternatively, the disabled employee can help pay for part of the proposed accommodation that would eliminate the undue hardship.
Making accommodations that benefit all
Ultimately, both you and your employees benefit from reasonable accommodations. Your employees get to continue working in their current positions with all the benefits their position offers, and you get to hire and keep qualified employees, as well as make your facilities more accessible and attractive to others with disabilities. As long as the accommodation is reasonable, it is a win-win situation for all involved.