How Employers Can Support Employees With Disabilities
Diversity, equity and inclusivity (DEI) initiatives have become an important part of today’s workforce and something employers are required to implement and adhere to. In addition to the legal considerations, organizations that prioritize employee support in DEI efforts showcase their commitment to fostering a safe and secure workplace where each individual can contribute and flourish to their fullest potential. This article will discuss how employers can help employees with disabilities, creating a workplace that is inclusive and accessible for everyone.
Legal RequirementsUnder The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) employers in the U.S. are required to make reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities unless doing so would cause them undue hardship.
In the U.K., employers also have a duty to make reasonable adjustments, under the Equality Act 2010, to ensure employees with disabilities are not put at a disadvantage compared to their non-disabled colleagues. The specific legal requirements safeguarding the rights of employees with disabilities may vary depending on the jurisdiction and laws.
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DEI InitiativesDEI initiatives support employers in creating a workplace culture that promotes inclusivity and accessibility for all. These include:
- Disability inclusion training: Education for all employees can help to create a more supportive and inclusive workplace for employees with disabilities. This can include learning about the challenges employees with disabilities face in the workplace, accessible technology, and inclusive language to use to avoid causing offense when communicating with colleagues.
- Employee Resource Groups (ERGs): ERGs can offer a safe space for employees with disabilities to discuss their experiences, share advice and support as well as opportunities for professional development. The promotion of these platforms can help employers show their commitment to fostering greater inclusion, equity, and accessibility for employees with disabilities. ERGs also provide an opportunity for non-disabled employees to show allyship by actively participating, learning, and advocating for the rights and needs of their colleagues with disabilities.
- Address ableism and unconscious bias: Ableism is a form of discrimination in favor of non-disabled individuals. In the workplace, this can result in negative assumptions about disabled employees, exclusion from certain opportunities, inaccessible facilities, and unequal treatment. By addressing unconscious biases and stereotypes, employees with disabilities can be afforded the same opportunities as their non-disabled colleagues.
Practical AccommodationsAs well as the steps mentioned above, certain practical accommodations should also be made to support employees with disabilities in the workplace. These include:
- Assistive tools and technology: This can include augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) devices, screen readers, speech recognition software, alternative keyboards, and other equipment to assist employees with disabilities in the workplace.
- Workplace assessments: By identifying the specific needs of their employees, employers can provide reasonable adjustments or accommodations to help them perform their duties. This can include assistive technology such as ergonomic equipment and modifications to their workspace.
- Flexible Working: Flexible work arrangements like remote work and flexible hours can support employees in managing symptoms and attending medical appointments that may impact their ability to do their job during specific times.
Implementing these steps can help employers create a workplace that allows all employees to thrive regardless of their abilities or disabilities.
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