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Employment Accommodation Strategies After the COVID-19 Pandemic

In our last article, we discussed how workplaces have needed to change some of their business practices in response to COVID-19. Employers support their workers and clients during the pandemic through new work strategies, like remote work or physical distancing. This same mindset is also vital for employers that accommodate workers with disabilities. When employers hire a worker with a disability, they may need to be flexible about when, where, or how that person works. In this article, we will explore how workplaces can implement more employment accommodation strategies after the COVID-19 pandemic.

More Employment Accommodation Strategies After the COVID-19 Pandemic

Accommodations for Time Off

Disability is not the same as illness. Most people with disabilities do not need medical appointments or time off to manage their conditions. However, some workers may have episodic disabilities. In other words, they may experience periods of illness between times when they are feeling their best. As a result, they may need the accommodation of a flexible policy for sick days. For instance, they may need to:

  • Take time off suddenly
  • Schedule a few hours off for recurring appointments
  • Take more time off in a row than workers are usually allowed

Just as employers are accommodating workers taking sudden time off for COVID-related reasons, they can accommodate workers who need time off for disability-related reasons. For example, a worker’s accommodation plan could state that the worker will:

  • Attend appointments at certain times, and make up missed work at another specified time
  • Have flexible deadlines or exchange tasks, in the event of sudden sick days

Structural Accommodations

Many accommodations for scheduling, work stations, communication, or sick leave are not expensive or time-consuming to implement. In contrast, other accommodations workers may need are more costly or may take more time to arrange. For instance, some structural accommodations workers may need include:

  • Widened doorways or aisles
  • A ramp, in buildings with stairs up to the main entrance
  • Accessible washrooms

However, there is funding that can support workplaces in making more costly accommodations, such as installing new building features or software. Just as funding is helping some businesses pay their workers during the pandemic, there are also grants to help businesses accommodate their workers.

Furthermore, accommodation, like the new supports for workers during COVID-19, is the right thing to do. Accommodation helps the economy because it allows workers to contribute to society in meaningful ways. Moreover, accommodation allows workplaces to access more potential employees eager to use their diverse skills and expertise.