Provide Workplace Accommodations
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, employers are required to provide employees with disabilities, including apprentices, with reasonable job accommodations. Accommodations help apprentices with disabilities perform tasks essential to their jobs. For instance, an apprentice who is blind or has low vision might ask their employer to provide a Braille keyboard, screen magnification software, or a keyboard with large print to more easily use a computer.
Did you know?
Most workplace accommodations are not expensive, and half of all accommodations cost employers nothing. Of those accommodations that do have a cost, the typical one-time expenditure is $500—an expense many employers say pays for itself through reduced training costs, increased productivity, and more.
Research Reasonable Accommodations:
Understand what is considered a reasonable accommodation so you’re prepared to answer questions and respond to requests from your apprentices with disabilities. Check out JAN’s website for a wealth of information related to workplace accommodations. Reasonable accommodations may include, but are not limited to:
- Job restructuring (e.g., reallocating or redistributing job functions)
- Modified work schedules (e.g., creating part-time or flexible work schedules)
- Buying or modifying equipment (e.g., providing alternative keyboards)
- Worksite adjustments (e.g., installing ramps)
- Policy modifications (e.g., allowing service animals into an office)
Focus on Universal Design:
Accommodations can benefit all employees, including apprentices. For example, providing telework accommodations that support people with disabilities can create the infrastructure to enable other employees to work remotely; installing ramps could help a staff member with a recent injury enter the building using crutches
- Follow the seven principles of universal design to create a workplace that is accessible to all, which may also lead to fewer accommodation requests.
An apprentice’s accommodation needs may shift throughout their employment due to a change in disability status, a new job role, new technology, etc. Employers and apprenticeship intermediaries should be prepared to respond to accommodation requests throughout the entirety of the apprenticeship.
Understand the Mediation Process:
There may be cases when an apprentice isn’t satisfied with the provided accommodation or an employer denies the accommodation request. This type of conflict can result in expensive investigations and court cases.
- Before seeking mediation, your organization (or the apprentice in question) should consider reaching out to JAN for support. JAN routes questions to one of their professional consultants who are experienced in the field of rehabilitation.
- The Department of Justice runs the ADA Mediation Program that uses professional ADA-trained mediators to provide a free, confidential way to resolve ADA complaints.