Employers Can Leverage Clinicians to Support Their ADA Compliance Efforts
March 01, 2021 | Categories: ODG by MCG
While compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is generally assigned to human resources (HR), employers can use the help of clinicians to build programs that facilitate ADA compliance.
The ADA went into effect in 1990, with major amendments effective January 2009 to expand the definition of disability. Title I of the ADA obligates employers to attempt to provide reasonable accommodations for employees with a qualified disability unless accommodation presents an undue hardship. Clinicians can help employers create functional job descriptions that ensure a well-defined narrative of essential job functions along with the associated physical, cognitive, and psychosocial demands that are often lacking in traditional job summaries.
Applying this information, clinicians can be a valuable resource to help employers with key functions in the accommodation process. They are uniquely positioned to help employers coordinate effectively with the employee’s treating providers to identify what functional abilities the employee has, along with necessary restrictions and limitations. Following that, clinicians can work with an employer to identify opportunities to modify the employee’s job or find safe alternative jobs.
To facilitate these processes, clinicians are well-equipped to help employers apply appropriate new tools and technologies. Digital job profiles, for example, can take a traditionally manual, time-consuming process, apply artificial intelligence, and provide real-time job-matching with greater reliability. This tool, when guided by a clinician’s knowledge, can help place the employee in a well-suited position, reducing the likelihood of an exacerbation to their injury or illness.
DMEC and other industry organizations have continually emphasized stay-at-work/return-to-work (SAW/RTW) programs. SAW/RTW is getting a new wave of support through the U.S. Department of Labor program Retaining Employment and Talent after Injury/ Illness Network (RETAIN) to help states develop SAW/RTW programs.1 RETAIN could eventually provide the state-level infrastructure that supports employer efforts to create SAW/RTW programs. These programs are a resource to assist employer ADA compliance. They also support better outcomes, lower costs, and improve overall productivity and employee morale that could suffer from the stigma associated with a prolonged absence.
In addition to applying ADA compliance tools and resources,2 a clinician’s greatest impact may be in offering education and helping to change the workplace culture. Often, once an employee is out for a disability, employers struggle to offer modified duty positions, resulting in prolonged disability durations. We often see statistics showing that the longer employees are off work, the less likely they are to return. This makes returning employees to work all the more critical. Clinicians can provide evidence-based tools and information to guide employers toward informed decisions around policies and programs that support accommodating those with an injury or illness.
Employers can use clinicians for key roles in facilitating ADA compliance. Before an injury or illness occurs, clinicians can help educate employers and their staff on proper ergonomics. Clinicians also can advise on safety programs, help create a culture of support and inclusion, and provide guidance on developing effective SAW/RTW programs.
– Jamie LaPaglia, RN, CCM, ODG Manager of Implementation and Clinical Education, September 1, 2020
Image courtesy Shutterstock/Vitalii Vodolazskyi
This article was previously published in Disability Management Employer Coalition (DMEC) magazine @Work as the author of their September 2020 column, “A Clinician’s Viewpoint.”
The information contained in this article concerns the ODG or MCG care guidelines in the specified edition and as of the date of publication, and may not reflect revisions made to the guidelines or any other developments in the subject matter after the publication date of the article.
- S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy. S@W/R2W Research & State Demonstration Projects. Retrieved from https:// www.dol.gov/agencies/odep/topics/saw-rtw/about
- The U.S. Department of Labor provides useful tools and resources at https://www.dol.gov to help build and operate SAW/RTW programs, including the Employer Assistance and Referral Network for Disability Inclusion, O*Net online, and more. The Job Accommodation Network also offers a variety of resources at https://askjan.org/.
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