Welcome to Part 4 of our blog series all about the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)! Hopefully you’ve had time to check out the new whitepaper, Everything You Need to Know About the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), by our parent company, Presagia. If not, you can download it here!
In the fourth and final part of this series, we'll look at the interactive process and the technology that supports managing accommodations.
The Interactive Process & Technology
While navigating the ADA can be difficult, one tried and true method to help you manage accommodations is putting in place a compliant and consistent interactive process.
To understand the steps involved in the interactive process, along with the technology that can assist, we’ll first discuss the glue that holds it all together - the accommodation case management system. This piece is important since it joins together the various technologies you may utilize and keeps the information related to an accommodation case all in one place.
Accommodation Case Management System
It’s no secret that this system has many uses and benefits. Let’s have a look at some of the ways an accommodation case management system can help you manage ADA accommodations:
- Provides a place to document the interactive process clearly and maintains copies of all notes and correspondence to comply with the ADA
- Maintains a record of jobs, essential functions and a full history of an employee’s past, current and future accommodations
- Acts as a repository for data collected throughout accommodation process, such as essential functions, restrictions and case notes
- Provides reminders for upcoming tasks and guides case managers through the accommodation workflow
Presagia's new whitepaper goes into even greater depth on how the accommodation case management system helps with the accommodation process. Check it out here!
Now that we’ve explored an essential component to manage the accommodation process, let’s take a look at the key steps of the interactive process, along with supporting technologies.
Step 1: Recognize the Need for Accommodation
You’ll first want to identify who in your organization will make an accommodation request and the reason they’re doing so. For example, an accommodation request could come at the end of an FMLA leave, or a manager reaching out for assistance with an employee, or an employee walking into your office. Awareness of when to expect accommodations will allow you to decide the most effective request processes and mitigate the risks of accommodations not being dealt with properly or worse...not at all. Two types of technology that can help with this step include self-service accommodation request tools and general workplace request management tools.
Step 2: Gather Information
Doing as much research as you can is crucial in determining how to accommodate an employee. Engage with all of the stakeholders and assemble as much information as you can, including restrictions and limitations, job descriptions with essential job functions, and more. The types of technology that can assist with gathering information include a physical demands analysis, functional capacity evaluation and job description builders.
Step 3: Analyze Restrictions & Impacts on Essential Functions
Use all of the information you’ve gathered and stored in your accommodation case management system to begin analyzing the impacts of an employee’s restrictions and limitations on their essential functions. This will give you the insight you need as you begin to discuss potential accommodations in the next step.
Step 4: Evaluate & Propose Accommodation
Now that you’ve analyzed your employee’s current abilities and their job, it’s time to figure out how to accommodate them. Things to consider: meetings with the employee, their manager and others, asking and evaluating whether the employee can perform the job, and researching accommodations if need be. Accommodations could include leave, transitional assignment, modified duty, assistive equipment, and job reassignment. Technology that supports this step includes transitional task banks, disability duration guidelines, accommodation cost tracking tools and adaptive equipment tools.
Step 5: Determine Accommodation
With the help of the technologies mentioned in the previous step, you will be able to determine whether an accommodation is necessary and determine the type of accommodation. You will also be able to implement the accommodation while clearly identifying what to expect in terms of follow up and next steps. As with the previous steps, accommodations can be tracked and monitored in your accommodation case management system.
Step 6: Monitor Accommodation
Once an accommodation has been put in place, it’s important to continually monitor the case. Often, the accommodation process is iterative and necessitates an open dialogue between the employer and employee. You may need to circle back to different steps in the process as an employee’s disability progressively improves and they can begin performing more functions. The accommodation case management system can assist by providing deadlines and reminders to ensure a case doesn’t fall through the cracks.
Step 7: Program Exit
Continue to work through the accommodation process until either a permanent accommodation is made, your employee returns to their former position, or you’ve made your best efforts, but termination is the only option. As with the entire accommodation process, record the outcomes and reasoning for it in your accommodation case management system to ensure a complete and accurate history of your best efforts to accommodate.
As you can see, technology, especially the accommodation case management system, along with the interactive process can help support an employer’s ideal accommodation program. By being aware of best practices, aligning key stakeholders and leveraging the right technological solutions, organizations can find peace of mind, even with the most complex legislation!
Check out our other posts in the series (links to be added as published) and don’t forget to subscribe to our blog to receive updates the moment they go live!