In this Issue: COVID-19 & the ADA, FEED Meeting, and More
EARN IN ACTION
The ADA at Work: Considerations for COVID-19
On April 1, EARN, in coordination with the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Centers, hosted a webinar addressing common employer questions about balancing COVID-19 health and safety guidelines with employees’ rights under the ADA. The webinar addressed questions that EARN and the ADA National Network have received in recent weeks. To answer these questions, panelists relayed U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission guidance to help employers understand the ADA, including its rules about reasonable accommodations and medical examinations and inquiries. Access the archived webinar.
On April 30, EARN, in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and U.S. Office of Personnel Management, hosted the second Federal Exchange on Employment and Disability (FEED) meeting of 2020. Although FEED meetings typically include online participation from some members, this is the first time one was held 100 percent remotely—which was particularly fitting given the agenda topic, “Federal Agency Telework Considerations for Employees with Disabilities.” FEED is an interagency working group focused on sharing best practices to make the Federal Government a model employer of people with disabilities. Learn more about FEED.
EARN, in coordination with Disability:IN, recently facilitated the spring meeting of the “Circle”—a group of companies recognized for their leadership on disability inclusion. During the online meeting, representatives from member companies talked with leaders from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) about how their organizations’ disability inclusion policies and practices are informing their efforts to support all employees during the COVID-19 pandemic. ODEP also recognized the Excellence in Disability Inclusion (EDI) Award winners, CVS Health and PepsiCo, who shared details about their disability inclusion initiatives over the past year. Learn more about the EDI Awards.
DISABILITY EMPLOYMENT IN THE NEWS
EEOC COVID-19 Guidance
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) updated its guidance document, “What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other Equal Employment Opportunity Laws.” This update addressed a range of new topics, including return-to-work situations, making reasonable accommodations, harassment, testing, medical exams, and essential workers. EEOC also posted a webinar addressing questions about the COVID-19 pandemic arising under federal equal employment opportunity laws. Read the guidance or watch the webinar.
Supporting Telework for Employees with Disabilities
The shift to widespread telework due to COVID-19 is spurring increased use of digital communications systems, requiring employees both with and without disabilities to adjust to new technologies. As with any physical facility, it is important to ensure the virtual workplace is accessible to all, including applicants and employees with disabilities. To help, the Partnership on Employment & Accessible Technology (PEAT) offers guidance and the Job Accommodation Network (JAN) published a blog post with specific strategies for supporting employees who are deaf or hard of hearing. Access PEAT’s guidance or JAN’s blog post.
Adapting to Evolving Employment Needs
Reflecting its “dual-customer” approach to workforce development, the nation’s vocational rehabilitation (VR) program has been responding to the COVID-19 pandemic by providing continued service to both individual job seekers with disabilities and essential businesses, such as hospitals, grocery stores, and pharmacies, which have an increased demand for workers. Recent blog posts published by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services highlight the efforts of two state VR agencies in particular. Read more about VR’s efforts in Ohio and Michigan.
Disability Inclusion Training
The Society for Human Resource Management Foundation and the Workplace Initiative by Understood announced a new free training program focused on helping businesses increase disability inclusion in their workforce. Targeted at human resource professionals and hiring managers, the “Employing Abilities @Work Certificate” comprises 12 micro-learning modules on topics such as best practices for recruitment and hiring, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and building a culture that supports disability and self-identification. Learn more about the training program.
Q. We know that May was Mental Health Month. We want to follow up on it by expressing our support to employees during this challenging time, but we don’t have an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). Do you have resources to help?
Yes! Now is a great time to broach this topic with employees, and doing so is a great way to achieve the first of our “4 A’s of a Mental Health-Friendly Workplace”—awareness. There are many things businesses can do to build awareness and a supportive culture, regardless of company size or whether they have a formal EAP.
MARK YOUR CALENDAR
June 3, 2020, 2:00 p.m. ET
Webinar: Building an Inclusive Workplace Culture in Times of Crisis: Inclusion Matters
Diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace are associated with more creative, innovative, and productive outcomes. At all times, but especially during a crisis, it is critical to ensure employees from all backgrounds feel safe and supported. This U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation webinar will address topics such as building a culture of empathy, mitigating unconscious bias in new work environments, and diversifying hiring strategies and talent pipelines. Register for the webinar.
June 16, 2020, 2:00 p.m. ET
Webcast: Get to Work! – Leveraging Workplace Flexibility to Improve Employee Presence
This online training hosted by the Job Accommodation Network will address workplace policies related to when and where work is performed and how they facilitate the flexibility needed to be productive at work and manage personal and disability-related needs. Topics will include Americans with Disabilities Act regulations related to attendance, telework, modified schedules, and accommodation solutions intended to improve employee presence. Register for the webcast.
June 16, 2020, 2:00 p.m. ET
Audio Presentation: The ADA, Addiction, Recovery, and Employment Workshop
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) provides protections to people with alcoholism and in recovery from addiction to opioids and other drugs. Hosted by the ADA National Network, New England ADA Center, and Great Lakes ADA Center, this audio presentation will discuss how the ADA addresses alcoholism and substance use disorders in the employment context, including during the pre-offer and post-offer phase. Register for the audio presentation.
International technology firm SAP was one of the first companies to develop an initiative focused on proactively recruiting individuals on the autism spectrum. Now, the company is committed to ensuring its efforts to help employees stay connected, engaged, and productive during COVID-19 consider the needs of these employees. Learn more about SAP’s efforts.
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.