With regards to job-protected leaves of absence (with either state and/or federal protections) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (the ADA), knowing how to spot potential ADA issues is critical. Under the ADA, employees are responsible for requesting a reasonable accommodation (a modification or adjustment to the work environment, or to the manner or circumstances under which the position held or desired is customarily performed, that enable a qualified individual with a disability to perform the essential functions of that position), and employers are only required to make reasonable accommodations for employees with known mental or physical impairments. This means that the employee doesn’t have to use those two magic words and directly say that they need a “reasonable accommodation,” but they are responsible for disclosing that they have a disability that has created limitations affecting their work and that an accommodation is required in order for them to perform the essential functions of their job.
Equally as important as knowing how to pinpoint these indications of a need for a leave or reasonable accommodation is having a policy in place that outlines what you as a manager are expected to do when such a situation arises. Your Employee Handbook or Personnel Policies and Procedures Manual should have a detailed policy indicating what the employee’s responsibilities are, what protections are available to employees, who to contact, and what the process is and what the procedures are for requesting an accommodation or leave of absence (such as the request to be submitted in writing, a list of the duties the employee needs an accommodation for, and what the accommodation(s) requested are).
Management training on leave administration can be invaluable for organizations that warrant such a process. Having a policy in place, while important, can only take your managers so far. Training on leave administration can help supervisors know how to spot the need for a leave or an accommodation, how to properly communicate with the employee, when to forward the situation to human resources, ongoing management of the situation, and how to effectively manage any disciplinary action to ensure situations involving perceived discrimination and retaliation don’t occur.
HRCentral specializes in creating customized policies and procedures and conducting management training that is tailored to your organization’s unique culture. Contact us today to see if your company could benefit from leave administration training, educating your management staff on the different types of job-protected and disability-related leaves and everything that those cases entail.