In this Issue: Workplace Mental Health, Autism Awareness Month and More
EARN IN ACTION
Mental Health Webinar
Last month, EARN, in coordination with its funding agency, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), and the National Industry Liaison Group (NILG), held a webinar focused on mental health in the workplace. Speakers included Nakisha Pugh, ODEP Senior Policy Advisor, and Diana Gulick, Associate Director of Global Benefits and Wellbeing at Merck. This webinar is now archived to view at any time. An accompanying handout and other materials are also available. Access the archived webinar and handout.
Checklist for a Mentally Healthy Workplace
A new EARN resource—the Checklist for Mentally Healthy Workplaces—summarizes strategies that can help employers foster a mental health-friendly workplace. These strategies align with the “4 A’s of a Mental Health-Friendly Workplace” employer framework. This framework, a key part of EARN’s Mental Health Toolkit, includes building “Awareness” and a supportive culture, providing “Accommodations” to employees, offering employee “Assistance” and ensuring “Access” to mental health treatment. Access the checklist or the Mental Health Toolkit.
Disability Inclusion in the Federal Workforce
On April 12, EARN, in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and Office of Personnel Management, hosted the second Federal Exchange on Employment and Disability (FEED) meeting of 2021. Presenters from EEOC discussed reviews of agency affirmative action plans under Section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act. There was also a presentation about the State Department’s new technology center. FEED is an interagency working group focused on sharing best practices to make the Federal Government a model employer of people with disabilities. Learn about FEED.
DISABILITY EMPLOYMENT IN THE NEWS
Advancing Equity in Employment for People with Disabilities
Now through April 26, employers and others can participate in a U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) national online dialogue on ensuring racial and social equity in employment for people with disabilities. It will be co-hosted by DOL’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) and Women’s Bureau. Information gathered during this dialogue will help shape future programs and funding opportunities to respond to the needs of people with disabilities from historically underserved communities. Read the news release or register for the dialogue to share your ideas.
Resources for Individuals with “Long COVID”
Although most people who contract COVID-19 recover in four to six weeks, data indicate that between 10 and 30 percent experience lingering symptoms, a condition commonly known as “Long COVID.” Like others with chronic health conditions, these individuals may be covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act and other disability nondiscrimination laws and regulations, and thus entitled to workplace accommodations. To help employers understand issues related to the topic, the Job Accommodation Network (JAN) wrote a blog post about accommodating employees with COVID-19-related symptoms. Access the JAN blog post.
Driving Change through Inclusive State and Local Policies
In a recent blog post, Michael Reardon, Supervisory Policy Advisor in the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), shares how—through effective partnerships with state and local policymakers—the agency works to promote greater workforce participation of individuals with disabilities “where the rubber meets the road in terms of workforce solutions.” Key initiatives highlighted include ODEP’s State Exchange on Employment and Disability (SEED) and Employment First, among others. The post is part of a series sharing best practices in honor of ODEP’s 20th anniversary. Read the DOL blog post.
Expanding Inclusion in Apprenticeship
Last month, the U.S. Department of Labor announced the availability of $87.5 million in grants to expand Registered Apprenticeship programs across the nation. Up to $40 million will focus on increasing the inclusion of people from historically underrepresented communities. The 2016 updates to the equal employment opportunity (EEO) regulations for Registered Apprenticeship programs require sponsors to take proactive steps to include people from diverse backgrounds, including women, minorities and people with disabilities. Read the news release or learn about the EEO regulations.
Telework as a Reasonable Accommodation
In its most recent newsletter, the Mid-Atlantic Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Center explored the topic of telework as a reasonable accommodation, an issue many employers and individuals may have questions about as offices resume onsite operations in the wake of COVID-19. The key is to consider existing policies and practices; if employees can already work remotely for reasons not related to disability, a disability-related request should not be handled any differently. But, if telework is not generally allowed, an employer should proceed with the ADA accommodation process. Read the article.
Q: We’ve been implementing ongoing training on disability issues and would like to focus on autism in April since it’s Autism Awareness Month. Can EARN help?
A: Great idea, and yes! EARN has a resource on its website that explains neurodiversity—an umbrella term that encompasses neurocognitive differences including autism as well as other conditions—in the workplace context. This resource addresses the benefit of neurodiversity for employers and employees and common accommodations for neurodiverse employees with autism and other neurocognitive differences. It also describes autism hiring initiatives implemented by a range of companies.
MARK YOUR CALENDAR
April 20, 2021, 1:00 p.m. ET
“Office Hours”: Recognizing the Value of Neurodiverse Employees
This is an “Office Hours” session with the National Business and Disability Council at The Viscardi Center. John Kemp, Viscardi President and CEO, and Tatiana Arthur, Global Chief of Staff for People Sustainability and Diversity and Inclusion at SAP, will discuss the company’s pioneering Autism at Work program. Register for the office hours.
April 20, 2021, 2:00 p.m. ET
Webinar: Ask the Information Specialists: Taking Care of Business
During this webinar, presenters from the Mid-Atlantic Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Center will answer participants’ questions about Title III of the ADA. Title III prohibits discrimination based on disability in the activities of “places of public accommodation,” which generally encompass businesses such as stores, entertainment venues and doctors’ offices. Register for the webinar.
April 30, 2021, 2:00 p.m. ET
Webinar: Getting Ahead of the Curve: Ensuring Safe, Healthy and Inclusive Workplaces During the COVID-19 Recovery
This EARN webinar will explore strategies employers can use to ensure safe and healthy workplaces for all workers, including those with disabilities, in the wake of COVID-19. Panelists include representatives from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Register for the webinar.
April 30, 2021
Deadline: HIRE Vets Medallion Program
The deadline to apply for the 2021 HIRE Vets Medallion Award is April 30, 2021. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Veterans’ Employment and Training Service, this annual program recognizes employers of all sizes with exemplary track records in recruiting, employing and retaining veterans, including wounded warriors. Learn about the HIRE Vets Medallion program.
Autism Awareness Month: Ultranauts
Founded by two Massachusetts Institute of Technology graduates, Ultranauts (formerly Ultra Testing) is a software engineering firm with two main goals: to prove that neurodiversity is a competitive advantage in the workplace and provide superior service to its clients. As of 2019, Ultranauts met both of those goals, with 75 percent of its employees being on the autism spectrum and a sustained average growth rate of 50 percent per year.
The Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN) is a resource for employers seeking to recruit, hire, retain, and advance qualified employees with disabilities. It is funded by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy under a cooperative agreement with the K. Lisa Yang and Hock E. Tan Institute on Disability and Employment. For more information, visit AskEARN.org.
Preparation of this item was fully funded by the United States Department of Labor, Office of Disability Employment Policy in the amount of $8,000,000 (four-year total grant amount) under Cooperative Agreement No. OD-33975-19-75-4-36. This document does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Office of Disability Employment Policy, U.S. Department of Labor, nor does the mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.