EARN Newsletter: June 2021
Workplace Safety and Health During COVID-19 Reopening and More
EARN in Action
Disability-Inclusive COVID-19 Workplace Health and Safety Plans
With vaccination rates on the rise, America’s employers and workers are starting to look toward the post-COVID workplace. Employers whose workers stayed onsite during the pandemic may need to address new issues as they arise, and those with remote workers will need to consider options going forward. To help, EARN developed a policy brief, titled Disability-Inclusive COVID-19 Workplace Safety and Health Plans. This brief highlights ways to ensure these plans align with disability nondiscrimination laws and regulations, and federal and state public health and occupational safety policies and procedures.
DirectEmployers Association Conference
EARN was pleased to present at the DirectEmployers Association 2021 Annual Meeting and Conference, held virtually this year. The presentation, titled “Workplace Disability Inclusion Across the Employment Process,” addressed how a commitment to disability inclusion extends beyond just recruitment to include all stages of the employment lifecycle, from onboarding to advancement. In addition to EARN’s Inclusion@Work employer framework and other key resources, the presentation addressed how employers can work to ensure their COVID-19 response is disability inclusive.
Driving Change Through Mental Health-Friendly Workplaces
In a recent blog post, Louis Orslene, Supervisor Policy Advisor in the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy, shared how the agency has worked to promote mental health-friendly employment services and workplaces over the last 20 years. The blog post spotlights EARN’s research on workplace mental health and resulting resources, including the “4 A’s of a Mental Health-Friendly Workplace” framework, which distills best practices into four key areas: awareness, accommodations, assistance and access to treatment. The post is part of a series sharing progress and best practices in disability employment in honor of ODEP’s 20th anniversary.
Ensuring Inclusive Telework Policies
A recent article published by the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) in its NCSL Today magazine explored how the ability to continue teleworking post-pandemic may offer increased opportunities for people with disabilities and others who may benefit from flexible work arrangements. The article also notes how employers’ telework policies might need to be developed, reworked and/or integrated to ensure inclusion for employees with disabilities. It also cites EARN’s policy brief, Adopting an Integrated Telework Policy for Employees With and Without Disabilities, as a resource that can help.
Disability Employment in the News
ODEP at 20: Leading Voices — Becky Ogle
In celebration of its 20th anniversary this year, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) is talking to its past leaders about the agency’s history and accomplishments to date. As part of this, ODEP Deputy Assistant Secretary Jennifer Sheehy interviewed Rebecca (Becky) Ogle, who, as Executive Director of the Presidential Task Force on Employment of Adults with Disabilities, proposed and designed ODEP. Highlights from their conversation were captured in a DOL blog post, the first in a new “Leading Voices” series.
State Approaches to Disability-Inclusive Telework
Telework can help state governments attract and retain talent, and save money. It can also help increase disability inclusion, if accessible to and usable by all employees. A new issue brief, Disability-Inclusive Telework for States: State Approaches to Increasing Access and Inclusion, provides guidance to state policymakers on developing inclusive telework policies and programs. It was developed by the Council of State Governments (CSG) in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Labor’s State Exchange on Employment & Disability (SEED).
PTSD Awareness Month
June is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Awareness Month, and an opportune time to learn how to best accommodate and support people with PTSD and other trauma- and stressor-related disorders, including veterans with disabilities. The Job Accommodation Network offers a range of resources to help employers learn more about PTSD and its symptoms, as well as find practical accommodation solutions for specific workplace situations.
UCLA College to Career Transition Program
The UCLA College to Career Transition Program is seeking employers interested in providing internships or other work experiences to young adults on the autism spectrum. Through this program, young adults with autism learn employment-related skills and complete a 10-week community internship. Participants have at least some college education and various occupational interests and experiences. To help facilitate successful placements, the program provides training to employers that addresses autism, strengths common to individuals on the spectrum and how to support them at work.
Through a partnership with the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development and the Tennessee Department of Human Services’ Division of Rehabilitation Services, UnitedHealthcare has developed an initiative to hire and train 150 employees with disabilities. UnitedHealthcare will also provide these employees with resources to work from home in order to limit transportation barriers.