Tallahessee, FL (WorkersCompensation.com) – A recent study released by the Florida Chamber Foundation shows that more employers are hiring employees with disabilities. According to the article on WorkersCompensation.com, 39,620 Floridians with a disability obtained new employment, and overall disability employment rates dropped by 6.9 percent from 2013 to 2017.
“Most employers are surprised to learn that it is relatively inexpensive to accommodate an employee with a disability,” said Terri Rhodes, CEO of Disability Management Employer Coalition. “According to studies released by the Job Accommodation Network, most workplace alterations cost less than $500.”
In 1990, the The Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law to ensure equal employment opportunity for individuals with disabilities. The ADA legislation states, “Employers must provide reasonable accommodations to qualified applicants or employees. A reasonable accommodation is any modification or adjustment to a job or the work environment that will enable an applicant or employee with a disability to participate in the application process or to perform essential job functions.”
Employers with 15 or more employees must comply with the ADA which is enforced in part by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. According to the EEOC, not every medical condition is covered by the ADA. In order to be applicable, an employee or potential candidate must be qualified for the position and have a disability as defined by law. According to the EEOC, employers are required to provide ‘reasonable accommodation’ for potential job applicants or employees with a disability unless the adjustments are considered too costly or problematic for the employer.
There are many resources available to employers for ideas and help with expenses, Rhodes explained. In some cases there may be funding available through the EEOC.
As examples, Rhodes described changing the adjustment on a computer monitor for an eyesight issue, or even simply implementing the use of a stool in the workplace for physical limitations. “Employees themselves are usually the ones that know best what adjustments need to be made, as they do the actual work.”
The DMEC often advises employers that it’s best to “err on the side of the employee,” especially when making other types of accommodations for things such as time off for therapy, etc. She also stated that in some instances, situations may be covered by FMLA laws, but that the ADA and EEOC are good resources to refer back to in regards to that.
According to the DMEC website, the organization is “the only association dedicated to providing focused education, knowledge, and networking for absence and disability professionals.” Rhodes stated that the DMEC often refers employers to JAN and the EEOC for more information on how to accommodate their employees with disabilities.