Our parent company, Presagia, is once again contributing a column to each 2019 issue of @Work Magazine, a publication by the Disability Management Employer Coalition (DMEC). If you haven't had a chance to check out this excellent group, we highly recommend that you do! DMEC provides best practices for our complex industry and @Work is one of many excellent resources that we always stay on top of!
This year's column, Technology and Absence Management, focuses on the technology that can help support a strong leave and accommodation management strategy. In celebration, we've created a blog series that will showcase each of the columns!
The following is the column from the September issue, which dives into the technology that, when leveraged together, can help greatly improve your accommodation program.
Non-compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) can be costly for employers. Monetary benefits awarded for charges filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) reached a new peak of $136.5 million in 2018. Fortunately, a wealth of technology is available to support the interactive accommodation process and strengthen your accommodation program. I presented on this topic at the 2019 DMEC Employer FMLA/ADA Compliance Conference, and captured the highlights of that presentation for this article.
Let’s start with the glue that holds it all together: the accommodation case management system. This serves as your single reference point throughout the entire interactive process, providing access to employees’ accommodations, helpful reminders for next steps, correspondence templates, and more. While this is your system of record, it’s complemented by, and ideally linked with, other systems throughout each step of the interactive process.
To begin the interactive process, it’s necessary to first recognize the need for accommodation. Many mechanisms assist this function, and most accommodation case management systems even include a request feature. However, to have all your bases covered, also look to your leave management system and ensure it has the right triggers in place to recognize when medical leaves indicate an ADA event even if no formal accommodation request was made.
Self-service accommodation equipment request tools can also help you recognize an ADA event. These tools allow employees to submit equipment requests through an online portal, route requests to the correct party, and track and record the status of equipment provided. This process also alerts the employer that the interactive review process may be appropriate, opening the door to an earlier intervention in some cases.
Once the need for accommodation is identified, it’s time to gather information about your employee’s essential job functions, restrictions, and any additional information to help determine potential accommodations. Look to evaluative tools such as physical demands analysis (PDA), functional capacity evaluation (FCE), and job description builder tools. These tools provide a variety of information that can aide the accommodation process:
- PDAs can be used to break down the essential functions of a job into measurable tasks to help determine job and task suitability.
- FCEs measure an employee’s current abilities and capacity to perform their job through an interview, medical record review, musculoskeletal screening, and functional testing conducted by a specialized healthcare provider.
- Job description builders facilitate the creation of consistent and compliant job descriptions, either from scratch or from a preexisting database, using keywords, best practices, and ADA-compliant language. These systems can include the data on physical demands data gathered about a role by other organizations.
Once you’re ready to analyze restrictions and impacts on essential functions, a job bank or job matching technology automates the process of matching employees’ abilities to the physical demands of their job and potential transitional assignments.
Disability duration guidelines are another tool to consider as you assess accommodations because they provide evidence-based advice on disability duration, treatment, return to work, and more.
Each of these tools and technologies provides a piece of the interactive process puzzle and, leveraged together, can greatly improve your accommodation program. To do this, start with a solid foundation: a strong accommodation case management system that acts as your system of record, providing access to the big picture of each accommodation case. From here, add in new solutions as you strategically build out your program.
Read The Other Blog Posts In This Series: