Absence Matters: Interactive Process with Higher Risk Employees

Tasha Patterson@Work


COVID-19: Engaging in the Interactive Process with Employees at Higher Risk

By Bryon Bass

SVP Workforce Absence

While our pandemic knowledge evolves every day, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) noted early on that adults with certain underlying medical conditions are at an increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19. These conditions include cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, immunocompromised state, heart conditions, and type 2 diabetes.1

Employees with these underlying conditions could request an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accommodation to reduce their elevated COVID-19 risk, particularly if their jobs must be performed at the workplace. Even during a pandemic, the employer is obligated to engage in an interactive dialogue with the employee making the request. Such a conversation may reveal measures that can be taken to address the employee’s concerns on a temporary basis that do not cause undue hardship for the organization.

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