Accommodating employees with disabilities
A company must demonstrate due diligence when providing accommodations and be prepared to defend decisions made on the grounds of undue hardship due to cost or risk.
Moving the discussion now from legal considerations to practical incentives, this article examines the costs and benefits of accommodating employees with injuries and disabilities.
Despite the fact that job accommodations, in general, are reasonably priced, many employers overestimate the cost, assuming that people with disabilities depend on expensive and exotic technical aids.
A businessperson of my acquaintance vehemently opposed providing text-enlargement software to an employee with low-vision because it costs "at least 00." In reality, the price tag of state-of-the-art text-enlargement software is about Cdn5, and less expensive alternatives are available.
In the March-April issue of Worksite News I described how human rights legislation in Canada requires employers, unions and co-workers to accommodate the accessibility needs of persons with disabilities, provided that doing so does not cause "undue hardship." Undue hardship does not mean experiencing an inconvenience.
The criteria for assessing undue hardship are cost (i.e., the cost of accommodating an employee affects the financial viability of the company) and health and safety risks (i.e., the risks caused by accommodating an individual outweighs the benefits of enhancing equality).
If the employer isn't prepared to accommodate a disabled employee in their business, they might not have the tools in place necessary to welcome and accommodate the disabled employee when such an illness occurs.
As an accommodations specialist at Assurant Employee Benefits, a small to midsize business employee benefits expert, I've created some tips for working with employees who have disabling illnesses or injuries.
Only ten percent of small employers even know that there is a one in three likelihood of a worker between the ages of 35 and 65 suffering a serious disability, according to a 2002 study by the American Council of Life Insurers.
Once you and your employee have settled on an accommodation, discuss when and how you will check in to make sure everything’s working as expected. People with a disability may not see it as a disability or may not feel comfortable coming forward to request an accommodation.