It’s the employer’s responsibility to engage in the Americans with Disabilities Act’s (ADA) interactive process.
The countless challenges brought upon by COVID-19 have shifted the workplace dynamic. The dialogue between employer and employee to provide reasonable accommodations is more important than ever. Employers must be proactive in identifying an employees limitations and collaboratively discussing effective accommodations to enable their employee to continue working. With 2021 fast approaching and managing a remote workforce remains high, communication is essential in fostering the needs of you employees.
Today, employers must now provide reasonable accommodation that allows employees to perform the essential functions of his/her job at home while juggling the ever-changing compliance laws impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Understanding the required guidelines and applicable law once an employee indicates an accommodation request is one of the many key factors to consider in the interactive process.
California law places significant responsibility on employers to engage meaningfully in the interactive process.
Fully comprehend the best practices associated with an employer’s obligation when in engaging in the ADA interactive process by registering for the 2021 California Employment Law Update by PIHRA and stay on the right side of the law.
We’re excited to welcome back Ryan Nell at CELU21. His passion for law and teaching others is evident through his energy and enthusiastic presentations. Recognized as a Rising Star by San Diego Super Lawyers, Ryan will make sure you leave his session well-versed in the latest standard for engaging in the interactive process.
We interviewed Ryan to give you a preview of his 2021 California Employment Law update session titled, “Are You Reasonably Reasonable? Fulfilling Employer Obligations to Engage in the Interactive Process.“
PIHRA: With so many individuals working from home, what’s the most important factor employers should consider when engaging in the interactive process?
Ryan Nell: While it may sound simple, employers need to remember that requirements to engage in the interactive process apply with the same force as they always have. This means that, while we are not spending the same amount of time in the same physical place as our employees, our obligations to ensure that their needs are met remained unchanged. Developing and maintaining strong lines of communication is vital, and companies that ensure those needs are met before problems arise are the ones that will be best suited to maintain compliance.
PIHRA: If a company shifts to a virtual hiring process, what impact does this have on initiating reasonable accommodations for applicants?
Ryan Nell: Hopefully, very little. While the move from in-person to virtual has been pervasive throughout just about all employment sectors, companies are doing a great job of using technology as an ally. This means that, while we may not physically be in the same place as our applicants, we can utilize technology (video conferencing and the like) to make things feel as close to “normal” as possible. This should ideally create an open flow of information and communication between not only employee and employer, but also applicant and employer, such that the interactive process can still operate smoothly.
PIHRA: What are 3 components of the interactive process that HR pros should focus on in 2021?
Ryan Nell: 1) Finding ways to maintain open lines of communication with employees;
2) Ensuring that employees remain aware of their rights and employers’ continuing commitment to maintain those rights;
3) Staying updated on the seemingly ever-changing landscape of COVID-19 compliance, particularly as it relates to providing accommodations.
PIHRA: Why are you excited to present at the 2021 California Employment Law Update?
Ryan Nell: This will mark my third consecutive year speaking at PIHRA’s California Employment Law Update. While I wish we could all meet in person, I have no doubt that PIHRA will do a tremendous job of replicating the conference experience through a digital forum, and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to be a part of it. I look forward to “seeing” you all soon!