Compliance Showcase: Accommodation Requests

Tasha Patterson@Work

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COVID-19’s Impact on Disability Compliance: Prepare for More Accommodation Requests

By Rachel Shaw, MBA

President and Principal Consultant
Shaw HR Consulting

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, human resource (HR) professionals were already struggling with the level of Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accommodation requests.

Through the pandemic, two things were introduced to U.S. workers that will likely contribute to a continued rise in this difficult workload. First, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) told hundreds of millions of Americans they have a disability through its “high risk” list; and second, the CDC linked this list to an often-preferred accommodation: working from home.

Now, many employers are trying to return employees to the worksite and roll back hybrid or full work-from-home (WFH) assignments, and ADA accommodation requests are on the rise. For better or worse, the CDC’s guidance during the pandemic took a number of your employees — who never before thought of themselves as having a disability or entitled to workplace accommodations — and coached them about the potential of the ADA in providing not just reasonable accommodations but also coveted WFH accommodations that were rarely considered “reasonable” before the pandemic.

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