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Frequently Asked Questions Employment

Disability Employment

  •   An agency is not required to make an accommodation if it can demonstrate that providing the accommodation would impose an undue hardship on its everyday operations. An undue hardship is an action that requires "significant difficulty or expense" in relation to:  
    • overall size of the agency's program with respect to the number of employees, number and type of facilities and size of budget;
    • type of operation, including the composition and structure of the agency's workforce; and
    • nature and cost of the accommodation.
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  • Executive Order 13163, which became effective in July, 2000, calls for Federal agencies to increase employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities employed at all levels and occupations in the Federal Government. It focuses attention on the need to hire and advance qualified individuals with disabilities within the Federal Government. Executive Order 13163 also requires each Federal agency to have a plan as to how it will increase the opportunities for individuals to be hired in the agency.
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  • A major life activity is a function that the average person in the general population can perform with little or no difficulty. Major life activities include activities such as caring for oneself, seeing, hearing, walking, breathing, speaking, learning, sitting, standing, lifting, reaching, and working.
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  • An individual can make either an oral or written request for accommodation. To request an accommodation, an individual may use "plain English" and does not need to mention the Rehabilitation Act or "reasonable accommodation." A family member, friend, health professional, or other representative may request a reasonable accommodation on behalf of an individual with a disability. An individual with a disability may request a reasonable accommodation at any time during the application process or during the period of employment. The request for a reasonable accommodation must be made for a reason related to a medical condition.
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  • An individual who is granted a reasonable accommodation might not receive the exact form of accommodation requested. The deciding official has the discretion to identify reasonable and appropriate alternatives.
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  • No, in a case of a 5 CFR 213.3102(u) appointee transferring from one agency to another, time previously spent under a Schedule A appointment counts toward the completion of the 2 year period if the person is reappointed without a break in service.
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  • If the critical functions of a job involve the need to travel, it is important that job candidates and employees are made aware of this requirement. Many people with disabilities are not limited in their ability to travel or perform temporary duty away from the office. In this case, no accommodation is needed. In other cases, a person's disability may affect his or her ability to travel. As with all reasonable accommodations, start with the employee. The accommodation needed for traveling will vary according to a person's disability and the mode, frequency and duration of travel. Constant travel is far different from an occasional trip. Local travel needs are far different from international air travel needs. For an employee who uses the services of an interpreter, reader, or personal assistant, it may be a matter of ensuring that the personal assistant, reader, or interpreter accompany the individual on a trip or be available once the individual reaches the destination. The General Services Administration travel regulations also provide authority to allow airline travel by first-class accommodation when a person with a disability is unable to travel standard coach because of space requirements or mobility limitations. In some cases, travel may not be involved in a critical job function, and it may be possible to redistribute duties in a work center, giving travel duties to some employees and other duties to those employees who have limitations with regard to travel. Sometimes, after looking at the job requirements and consulting with the individual and professional resources on job accommodations, you may find that the particular job requirements and the particular needs/limitations of a person with a disability are simply not compatible.The important point is not to assume that travel is impossible for a disabled person. In many situations, with a little thought and advance planning, a person with a disability can perform required travel and effectively accomplish the requirements of his/her job. For helpful information for travelers with disabilities, see the Disability.gov website.
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  • As with all interviews, the interviewer should have a full understanding of the job requirements before interviewing any candidate. The interviewer should be familiar with his/her agency’s own policies and practices. The interview must focus on abilities and how the applicant will accomplish tasks and meet the goals and objectives of the position. Ask all applicants the same questions including whether or not they have any needs that will require reasonable accommodation. Do not ask specific questions about an applicant's disability even if the disability is obvious. Some applicants will voluntarily explain how their disability relates to their ability to do the job, but others will not. Even if the applicant does discuss a disability, do not ask any questions about the disability that are not relevant to the actual position. It is important not to speculate about how you would perform a specific job if you had the applicant’s disability. For more tips on interviewing people with disabilities, visit the Mainstream website and the Job Accommodation Network (JAN) website.
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  • An agency is not required to make an accommodation if it can demonstrate that providing the accommodation would impose an undue hardship on its everyday operations. An undue hardship is an action that requires "significant difficulty or expense" in relation to:
    • overall size of the agency's program with respect to the number of employees, number and type of facilities and size of budget;
    • type of operation, including the composition and structure of the agency's workforce; and
    • nature and cost of the accommodation.
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