The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently issued a publication, titled “Employer-Provided Leave and the Americans with Disabilities Act“.
A reasonable accommodation is, generally, “any change in the work environment or in the way things are customarily done that enables an individual with a disability to enjoy equal employment opportunities.” That can include making modifications to existing leave policies and providing leave when needed for a disability, even where an employer does not offer leave to other employees. As with any other accommodation, the goal of providing leave as an accommodation is to afford employees with disabilities equal employment opportunities.
The EEOC continues to receive charges indicating that some employers may be unaware of Commission positions about leave and the ADA. For example, some employers may not know that they may have to modify policies that limit the amount of leave employees can take when an employee needs additional leave as a reasonable accommodation. Employer policies that require employees on extended leave to be 100 percent healed or able to work without restrictions may deny some employees reasonable accommodations that would enable them to return to work. Employers also sometimes fail to consider reassignment as an option for employees with disabilities who cannot return to their jobs following leave.
The publication discusses various issues, including equal access to leave under a leave policy, granting leave as a reasonable accommodation, the “interactive process” relating to leave, and reasonable accommodation (including reassignment) upon return to work.