Americans with Disabilities Act
The Americans with Disabilities Act was passed in 1990 to make it illegal to discriminate against people with disabilities. The law is broken down into 5 sections.
- Fair employment practices
- Public services
- Public accommodations
- And Miscellaneous issues such as retaliation, insurance, construction, state immunity, etc.
As an employer, it is illegal for you to discriminate against someone with a disability in:
- Job assignments
- Any other employment related activity
So, in a nutshell, don't discriminate in any way, shape or form against anyone.
People qualify as "disabled" under this act if they have, or have a record of, physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity. This includes hearing, sight, speech, breathing, performing manual tasks, walking, caring for themselves, learning, or working.
In order to be protected by the ADA they must be qualified and able to perform the essential duties of the job with or without reasonable accommodation. This means you should interview them and review their work histories just like you would anyone else you are considering for employment. This shouldn't have any affect on your ability to hire the best candidate for the job. You just have to make sure you're not disregarding them simply because of their disability.
Take care defining the "essential duties" of the job. Use your best judgment in determining what those essential duties are. According to the ADA you must decide whether the job itself exists because of that particular duty. You must then determine if there are other employees that duty could be assigned to or distributed among. And finally, what is the degree of skill required to perform the duty? Make these determinations before writing your job descriptions.
Reasonable accommodations are another thing you need to be aware of. What is considered reasonable? Reasonable accommodation enables the disabled individual to take part in and enjoy the benefits that other non-disabled employees do. It may include buying or modifying equipment or devices that the person can use to do the job, restructuring the job, offering part-time or altered schedules as accommodation, and making the workplace accessible to the individual, or many other changes.
There is also a limit to what is considered reasonable. If it would cause undue hardship on your company to make the changes necessary to accommodate the individual then there are ways to work around it. For example, you can allow the person to pay a portion of the cost of the changes required to accommodate them.
This is a fairly complicated law, and certainly hasn't been addressed completely in this article. For additional information go to HR Next, the Americans with Disabilities Act Web site, the EEOC Web site, or the U.S. Department of Justice Web site.
Family and Medical Leave Act
If your business has at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius then you must follow the requirements of the Family and Medical Leave Act. This means you have to allow all eligible employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off to be with family because of medical issues, births or adoptions. Eligible employees are those who have worked for your company for at least 12 months and 1,250 hours during those 12 months. You have to guarantee that employee that they will have their job (or a comparable job) when they return to work. Your employees are also allowed by the FMLA to take the 12 weeks of leave in smaller chunks if they need to.
With all of these great ideas for employee benefits, you feel certain your program will be the best on the block. But, maybe there are still some more things you can do to give your company an edge. What can you do to make sure you have that edge? Read on for some creative tips on making your workplace the very best!