Understanding What “Accommodation” Means For Employers and Candidates with Disabilities
In the discussion about hiring people with disabilities, it’s important that employers and job candidates start from a similar understanding. While some employees experience catastrophic disability and are unlikely to return to work, others come from a different disability experience. These employees encounter a “setback” disability, which involves time away from employment, but offers the prospect of returning to work, either directly or indirectly related to their past occupation. Because individual situations can vary, there is less understanding about the amount of rehabilitation time or job accommodation an employee might need before they could reasonably return to their former occupation, or return to a position that is similar (in terms of using their transferable skills or experience). Research in the field of disability and vocational rehabilitation supports the position that a majority of employees who have experienced a disability could perform essential job functions with appropriate employer accommodations. These accommodations may require only minimal cost or adjustments by the employer, and those steps are usually offset, given the value of the applicant’s skill set. What Employers Can Expect The typical job accommodation requires no financial investment and usually arises in the form of additional postural breaks. Examples include sitting, taking a break to stand for a few moments, flexible work schedules, and avoiding minor lifting or bending tasks. Accommodations that may require a limited financial investment—such as a modified chair, larger computer screen, telephone headset or adjustable desk (sitting to standing options)—could be achieved for less than $500. Of course, the measures an employer takes should be made in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. There are clear advantages to hiring a skilled, experienced individual with a disability—who may require an inexpensive accommodation—in today’s tightening job market. Consider the potential cost savings, too, when compared to the prospect of hiring someone less experienced who requires resource-intensive training. Employers in this situation may generate even greater savings and efficiencies, especially over the long term, by hiring an individual with a disability. Collaborative Process One significant consideration for both employers and employees, from our experience, is that many candidates demonstrate superior commitment and excellent value for the employer willing to give them an opportunity. It follows that discussing accommodations or modifications can be a positive way to begin the employer-employee relationship on the right foot. The conversation about accommodations may be a concern for job candidates, but employers’ human resources professionals usually are trained for these discussions. Candidates also can rely on the assistance of third parties such as Employment Networks (ENs), who regularly interact with potential employers to understand what modifications may be needed. Today’s workforce is forward-thinking. Individuals who have overcome significant obstacles to reach workplace readiness are even more invested in career success. Companies’ efficiencies are improving, especially in how they are developing their talent pool and accessing resources to increase diversity and inclusion. Choosing to utilize the skills of competent, creative and experienced job candidates is a sound business strategy with proven financial, organizational efficiency and employee morale benefits. For more information or materials, contact Anne Alcazar at (800) 854-1418, ext. 64059 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Allsup Employment Services Inc. Allsup Employment Services Inc. (AESI) is a Social Security Administration-approved Employment Network, providing job placement services to individuals with disabilities and job matching services to organizations seeking candidates. AESI job placement specialists focus on finding a good fit and support candidates and employers as they navigate the hiring process toward a successful long-term employment relationship. Visit AllsupES.com for more information.