Program Showcase: ADAAA & Career Mobility

DMEC Staff@Work

Moving the Needle: Integrating ADA/ADAAA Accommodation & Career Mobility

By Joe Barone, MSW, BCD

Employee ADA Case Manager, Baystate Health

By Laura McCormick

Manager, Disability and Leave Management, Baystate Health

By Karen English, CPCU, ARM

Senior Vice President, Spring Consulting Group

By Teri Weber, MBA

Senior Vice President, Spring Consulting Group

The federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA) mandate assistance for employees with disabling conditions to remain gainfully employed while protecting them from discrimination in the workplace or from discrimination in hiring practices. The laws require employers to use an “interactive process” to develop and provide “reasonable accommodations” for qualified employees with a disability, enabling them to perform the essential  functions of their jobs. Employers are required to provide accommodations unless doing so would cause undue hardship to the organization.

Accommodations vary and are designed to suit the unique needs of the employee relative to the capacities of the employer. While a defined leave of absence can be one form of accommodation, employees can request a range of other workplace accommodations, including:

  • Adjusted work schedules
  • Acquisition of adaptive equipment or services
  • Restructured job duties
  • Remote work arrangements
  • Reassignment to vacant positions

Although the ADA and ADAAA employment provisions apply to all U.S. employers with 15 or more employees, companies may take different approaches to providing effective accommodations. While some organizations focus on compliance, others develop and integrate initiatives within their overall human resources (HR) strategy to improve outcomes. At Baystate Health, a western Massachusetts healthcare organization with more than 12,000 employees, an ADA/ADAAA Case Management Program has been integrated with a Career Mobility Program to expand the range of accommodation options available to employees with disabling conditions.

Background

Baystate Health has long been focused on employee health and productivity with leave and disability management programs evolving over the years. Originally operating in silos, the workers’ compensation modified duty program, the non-occupational disability case management program, and the ADA/ADAAA case management program have been integrated since 2017 under the Disability and Leave Management (DLM) department managed by Laura McCormick.

In 2018, as the DLM department monitored its ADA requests by category (54% leave as accommodation and 46% workplace accommodations in 2019), the Career Mobility Program (CMP) was developed. This program is part of the Baystate Health Talent Acquisition Department, and its purpose is to retain talent by helping employees who, by virtue of a disabling condition, are no longer able to perform the essential functions of the job for which they were hired.

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