Kevin Curry

Employers are used to thinking of ergonomic accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act, but an ADA leave of absence is also considered an accommodation. Kevin Curry, national practice leader and senior vice president of sales and marketing at Reed Group Ltd., offers guidance for firms to evaluate employee requests for such leave, as well as how to comply with their obligations under the law.

The Americans with Disabilities Act requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to enable employees with physical or mental disabilities to perform the essential functions of their jobs.

Usually when employers think of an accommodation, it’s in the context of ergonomic equipment or adjustments to an employee’s workspace. Workplace accommodations, however, represent only one type of accommodation. A leave of absence also can be an accommodation.

An ADA “absence” is time off granted to allow an employee with a disability to return to work. This absence is on top of any other job-protected leave that’s already exhausted.

Penalties can be severe for employers who don’t properly consider leave as an accommodation before terminating an employee who can’t return from work after an absence, but the guidance from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and various court decisions is vague. As a result, many employers are uncertain of their obligations under the law.

To read the full article in Business Insurance click here

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