In this Issue: COVID-19 Resources, Telework Policies, and More!
EARN IN ACTION
COVID-19 Workplace Resources and Tools
During the COVID-19 pandemic, employers must navigate many issues to facilitate the employment and health and safety of all job applicants and employees, including those with disabilities. To assist, EARN recently created a webpage with resources that can assist in understanding the intersection between the pandemic and various disability employment policies and practices, including the Americans with Disabilities Act, telework as a reasonable accommodation, and mental health considerations. Visit the COVID-19 webpage.
Adopting an Integrated Telework Policy for Employees With and Without Disabilities
In the wake of COVID-19, many employers are assessing their policies and practices to reflect new realities, among them the shift to widespread telework. Generally, telework is offered at an employer’s discretion, but for some employees, it may be considered a reasonable accommodation under disability nondiscrimination laws. To avoid confusion and inefficiency, employers can adopt an integrated telework policy applicable to all employees, including employees with disabilities. A new EARN policy brief, Adopting an Integrated Telework Policy for Employees With and Without Disabilities, can help. Read the brief.
In recent years, more and more employers are learning the benefits of workplace neurodiversity. But what exactly is neurodiversity, and how can it benefit your company? A resource on the EARN website explains neurodiversity in the workplace context. It addresses the benefit of neurodiversity for employers and employees, common accommodations for employees with autism and other neurocognitive differences, and related hiring initiatives and partnerships implemented by a range of companies. Visit the Neurodiversity in the Workplace webpage.
DISABILITY EMPLOYMENT IN THE NEWS
Exploring the Intersection of Black History and Disability Inclusion
In honor of Black History Month in February, Nakisha Pugh, Senior Policy Advisor in the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy, authored a blog post exploring the connections between Black history and the disability rights movement. Pugh highlights how Black American civil rights leaders had a significant influence on America’s disability rights movement, including one person, Brad Lomax, who played a role in both. Read the Black History Month blog post.
ODEP at 20: Driving Change Through Accessible Technology
In a recent blog post, Nathan Cunningham, Policy Advisor in the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), addresses technology as a critical employment support for people with disabilities. He also discusses how, through its Partnership on Employment and Accessible Technology, the agency collaborates with industry to make emerging technologies accessible from the start. The post is part of a series sharing best practices and honoring ODEP’s 20th anniversary. Read the Accessible Technology blog post.
Persons with a Disability — Labor Force Characteristics 2020
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics recently published a summary of labor force, employment, and unemployment data for people with disabilities during 2020. Based on the monthly Current Population Survey (CPS), Persons with a Disability – Labor Force Characteristics 2020 illustrates the impact of COVID-19 on people with disabilities. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy sponsors the collection of disability data in the CPS. Read the report.
How Disability Inclusion Builds Sustainable Companies
In a recent Chief Executives for Corporate Purpose® article, Disability:IN President and CEO Jill Houghton explores the factors prompting business leaders to accelerate efforts to foster workplace inclusion, and the importance of ensuring disability is considered in these efforts. In the article, Houghton also highlights a growing coalition of CEOs publicly expressing a commitment to disability inclusion and resources available to assist companies in gauging progress. Read the article.
Q: We want to review our interviewing procedures to ensure we are not inadvertently excluding candidates with disabilities or violating disability nondiscrimination laws. Can you help?
A: Good idea, and yes! The key is standardizing the interview processes to ensure authenticity, accessibility, and equal opportunity for all candidates, including people with disabilities. EARN recently developed a checklist to help employers do this. As part of your review, you can look at your approach to job descriptions to ensure they clearly identify the essential functions of a position, as well as marginal ones. We have a checklist for that too!
MARK YOUR CALENDAR
March 10, 2021, 3:00 p.m. ET
Webinar: The Impact of COVID-19 on Employment for People with Disabilities: Notes from a National Online Dialogue and Implications for the Future
During this webinar, representatives from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy will share findings from a national online dialogue on providing employment services to people with disabilities during a time of increased health risks and unemployment. Topics to be addressed include safety concerns, telework, and workplace accommodations. Register for the March 10 webinar.
March 11, 2021, 2:00 p.m. ET
Webinar: Mental Health and Wellness in the Workplace
This EARN webinar will explore steps employers can take to foster a workplace culture that supports workers’ mental health, during COVID-19 and at all times. Speakers include Nakisha Pugh, Senior Policy Advisor at the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy, and Diana Gulick, Associate Director of Global Benefits and Wellbeing at Merck. Register for the March 11 webinar.
March 16, 2021, 2:00 p.m. ET
Webinar: Reasonable Accommodation: Best Practices for Return to Work during COVID-19
This Mid-Atlantic ADA Center webinar will address issues related to returning to work for employees with disabilities during COVID-19. Examples include requests for telework, leave and other accommodations, temporary job restructuring, vaccinations, and medical documentation. The speaker will be Job Accommodation Network Principal Consultant/Legislative Specialist Linda Carter Batiste. Register for the March 16 webinar.
Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden
Being disability inclusive means welcoming and ensuring access for not only applicants and employees with disabilities, but also customers. In this spirit, the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden (CZBG) recently took steps to ensure visitors with disabilities can fully experience its exhibits. To implement its “Zoo Access for All” initiative, CZBG partnered with the University of Cincinnati’s Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center to identify ways to increase accessibility and train employees on how to create a welcoming environment.
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.