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Knowing What's Next in the ADA Interactive Process

This week’s post is brought to you by Optis’ Business Development Analyst, David Spring.

In a previous blog we shared that training supervisors to identify and work through accommodation requests and the interactive process is one of the top challenges in managing employee accommodations. The interactive process refers to making communication a priority throughout the entire accommodations process, from request to implementation. You can read more about the interactive process explained by the EEOC here.

We know that training supervisors on the interactive process can be time consuming and unfortunately sometimes bog down your team’s interactive process efforts. But, user-friendly tools are available that will help guide your team through the interactive process. One benefit of these tools is configurable, auto-generated tasks. These tasks alert users of day-to-day activity that shouldn’t be missed. They help your team know what’s next in the interactive process. Typical tasks include:

  • Approved accommodation expiration
  • Certification past due
  • Temporary return to work expiration
  • Restriction re-assessment

When an employee indicates the need for an accommodation, this triggers the end-to-end interactive process. While you or your team members may respond timely with a request for additional medical information, sometimes collecting this additional information can be forgotten. We know, you’re beyond busy. But, with the ADA, lengthy, repeated hesitation is not viable, and managers must find a way to more efficiently and effectively engage in the interactive process and get things moving.

Fortunately, user-friendly tools as simple as tasks can be utilized because they remind managers and give them a friendly nudge of the need to collect medical information. What’s cool is that the best tools allow configuration of the reminders in multiple ways:

  • Specific time frames - a reminder can be configured to alert at a specific set of time; like one or two weeks.
  • Repeated intervals - a reminder can be set to repeat; say every week until the medical information is collected. To truly increase efficiency and effectiveness, the reminder should occur soon enough that the task isn’t forgotten, but not so frequent that the task begins to be ignored.

One of the reasons the interactive process can feel overwhelming is having multiple restrictions and/or accommodations for one employee during the same period of time. It can be especially difficult because it’s quite possible the restrictions and accommodations, while concurrent for some of the time, likely begin and end at disjoint times. It is particularly important to manage these events timely and properly.

Tools that provide guidance throughout the interactive process are uniquely helpful. Each restriction and its associated details are tracked separately from any other concurrent or consecutive restriction, including essential job functions impacted, the need for safety evaluations, etc. For temporary restrictions, managers will be reminded prior to its expiration of the pending end of the restriction. These reminders allow the manager to properly plan for an employee’s full return to work or the possibility of the need for additional accommodation due to the continuation of the impairment associated with the restriction.

What’s your need to know what’s next in the interactive process? If you believe that the process could be more efficient and more effective than its current state, then consider implementing tools to assist your managers and your team. Get yourself out of the quagmire onto more solid ground!

Learn more about Optis' new employee accommodation solution, ADAInteract™