March 25, 2020
Special COVID-19 ISSUE
A MESSAGE FROM EARN
EARN and its funding entity, the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), remain committed to helping employers protect the health and safety of their employees, during the COVID-19 pandemic and at all times. This special issue of the EARN newsletter provides resources that can assist employers and others in understanding the intersection between the pandemic and disability employment policies and practices. To start:
- The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued guidance to help employers understand the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Rehabilitation Act in the context of a pandemic, especially related to medical inquires. Read EEOC’s “What You Should Know About the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and COVID-19.” EEOC will also post a webinar to its website on March 27, 2020 that addresses questions about the COVID-19 pandemic arising under any of the federal EEO laws.
- ODEP’s Job Accommodation Network (JAN) outlined strategies employers covered by the ADA and other disability nondiscrimination laws should consider when dealing with communicable diseases, such as coronavirus, in the workplace. Visit JAN’s COVID-19 and the ADA webpage or read its blog post, “The ADA and Managing Reasonable Accommodation Requests from Employees with Disabilities in Response to COVID-19.”
- EARN will host a webinar, “The ADA at Work: Considerations for COVID-19,” on April 1, 2020. For details, see the “Mark Your Calendar” section below.
Also, DOL centralized resources on its website to assist employers in navigating the pandemic, including from DOL’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Wage and Hour Division, and Employment and Training Administration. These resources include guidance explaining paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.
It is important to note that information and guidance about COVID-19 continually evolves as conditions change. Employers are encouraged to regularly refer to these resources for updates.
DISABILITY EMPLOYMENT AND COVID-19
IN THE NEWS
Disabled People Have Worked Remotely for Years and They’ve got Advice for You and Your Bosses
A recent Washington Post article offers tips about working remotely from several people with disabilities and chronic illnesses who use telework as a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act. For workers, the article notes traditional guidance such as having structured hours and a dedicated workspace. For employers, advice includes using online platforms for task management, direct messaging, video meetings, and relying on resources such as the Job Accommodation Network for guidance on individual situations. Read the Washington Post article.
SHRM: Latest COVID-19 Resources
The COVID-19 outbreak created an unprecedented situation for employers across the nation, leaving human resource professionals to grapple with questions to which there are not always clear answers. To help, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) compiled resources on how to protect the health and safety of workers while also preparing for various scenarios—such as potential closures, long-term telework requirements, and mandatory social distancing and quarantines—as they arise. Access SHRM’s resources.
Working Remotely During COVID-19: Your Mental Health and Well-Being
The Center for Workplace Mental Health, a division of the American Psychiatric Association Foundation, developed a guide that employers can use to support employees who are working remotely, especially those not accustomed to doing so. Working Remotely During COVID-19: Your Mental Health and Well-Being outlines tips on maintaining mental health and well-being while working remotely, what employees should do if they have mental health conditions, and tips for managers and human resource professionals on how to stay connected and support employees during this challenging time. Access the guide.
Q: We want to do all we can to support our employees during this stressful time for them and their families. Do you have ideas or resources that can help us do so?
A: Yes, our Mental Health Toolkit outlines steps business both large and small can take to foster a mental health-friendly workplace, framed around what the “4 A’s”: building awareness and a supportive culture, providing accommodations to employees, offering employee assistance, and ensuring access to treatment.
MARK YOUR CALENDAR
March 29, 2020
Deadline: Online Dialogue on FFCRA
The U.S. Department of Labor will be hosting a national online dialogue to provide employers and employees with an innovative opportunity to offer their perspective as the Department develops compliance assistance materials and outreach strategies related to the implementation of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). The ideas and comments gathered from this dialogue will inform compliance assistance guidance, resources, and tools, as well as outreach approaches, that assist employers and employees in understanding their responsibilities and rights under the FFCRA. Anybody who is interested can participate online from March 23 through March 29, 2020. There will also be a Twitter chat hosted by @ePolicyWorks on March 25, 2020 at 2:00 p.m. ET using the hashtag #EPWChat.
April 1, 2020, 1:00 p.m. ET
The ADA at Work: Considerations for COVID-19
This EARN webinar will address how employers can balance guidance on COVID-19 containment from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention with Equal Employment Opportunity Commission guidance on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Specific topics will include the pandemic’s implications on disability-related inquiries, medical examinations, and interpreting direct threat. Panelists will also examine requirements for telework as a reasonable accommodation, requests for which have spiked due to required social distancing. Register for the COVID-19 webinar.
DuPont’s “ICU” Program
Times of uncertainty can take a toll on employees’ mental health, and many may experience increased stress, anxiety, and depression in reaction to the COVID-19 outbreak and the changes it has brought to daily life. As a result, employee assistance programs (EAPs) may experience an uptick in use. Chemical and pharmaceutical manufacturer DuPont’s global EAP team created a campaign called “ICU” (“I See You”), the centerpiece of which is a video about how to recognize signs of emotional distress in colleagues and encourage them to seek help. Based on its success, DuPont has made the program available to all employers, free of charge. Learn more about the “ICU” program.
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.