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Frequently Asked Questions Employment

Disability Employment

  • An employee with a disability who fails to meet performance standards or whose conduct on the job is inappropriate should receive the same treatment as an employee without a disability. In most cases, documentation of poor performance or misconduct should be collected, and the employee should be advised that there are issues of concern. As with any employee, the disabled employee’s failure to address performance or conduct issues may result in letters of counseling, suspension, and even termination. The disabled employee has the same rights as the non-disabled employee to appeal these personnel actions. For additional information, contact your human resources office; OPM also has posted information on employee relations issues on their Employee Relations website.
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  • Generally the agency (employer) must bear the costs of accommodations. Some agencies are organized to provide central funding of the costs of accommodations. Central funding assures that funding is available for accommodations. Check with your personnel office, disability coordinator, or EEO office or your agency’s reasonable accommodation policy to see how funding for accommodations is handled in your agency. Also, the Computer/Electronic Accommodations Program (CAP) at the Department of Defense may pay the cost of any technology-related accommodations for covered agencies. Contact the CAP for more information. If a client of the State vocational rehabilitation program is being hired, the State agency may pay for those accommodations that the individual would be able to use at any job site (e.g., a Braille notetaking device, an assistive listening device for use with the telephone). The State agency generally does not pay for accommodations to a work station or worksite that must then remain at that location after the individual leaves. If a client of the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Service of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is being hired, the VA may pay the cost of accommodations.
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  • No, individuals with disabilities are eligible to be noncompetitively converted in any Federal agency. Agency selective placement coordinators are urged to try and place disabled people with other agencies, if placement in their own agency is not possible. Checking the job listings on the OPM USAJOBS (www.usajobs.gov) is one way to locate appropriate positions for these individuals.
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  • You should discuss this matter with your supervisor and attempt to resolve the situation (including any misunderstanding) informally. In addition, be ready, willing, and able to volunteer for assignments as opportunities arise. By taking the initiative to volunteer, you speak volumes about your attitude and approach to the work in the office.
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  • If you are required to travel as an essential function of your job, you are entitled to reasonable accommodation to travel if you need such accommodation. You should start by discussing your need for reasonable accommodations frankly with your supervisor. Accommodations may be made in a wide variety of ways. If you are unable to travel standard coach because of space requirements or mobility limitations, General Services Administration travel regulations provide authority to allow airline travel by first-class. 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 will accompany the individual on a trip or be available once the individual reaches the destination. If travel is not an essential function of the job but only an occasional requirement, you might ask your supervisor if some of the work in your office might be redistributed, allowing you to take on other assignments rather than travel. If you need additional information on how you might be accommodated during travel, you might want to talk to your human resources specialist. For more helpful information for travelers with disabilities, see the Disability.gov website.
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  • The term "reasonable accommodation" is a term of art that Congress defined only through examples of changes or modifications to be made, or items to be provided, to a qualified individual with a disability. A reasonable accommodation is adapting the job site or job functions for a qualified person with a disability to enable an individual with a disability to enjoy equal employment opportunities. This does not mean that the employer must lower the standards of work for the position or change the job requirements. There are three categories of reasonable accommodations:
    • Modifications or adjustments to a job application process to permit an individual with a disability to be considered for a job (such as providing application forms in alternative formats like large print or Braille);
    • Modifications or adjustments necessary to enable a qualified individual with a disability to perform the essential functions of the job (such as providing sign language interpreters); and
    • Modifications or adjustments that enable employees with disabilities to enjoy equal benefits and privileges of employment (such as removing physical barriers in an office cafeteria).
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  • Decisions on making accommodations are made on a case-by-case basis. Executive Order 16134, however, requires each Federal agency to establish effective written procedures to facilitate the provision of reasonable accommodation for applicants and employees. Contact specific agencies for information on their decision-making process.
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  • The following is a list of some examples of documents agencies may accept as proof of an intellectual disability, severe physical disability or psychiatric disability. Ultimately, it is the agency's choice what type(s) of documentation will be acceptable:
    • Statements or letters on a physician's/medical professional's letterhead stationary.
    • Statements, records or letters from a Federal Government agency that issues or provides disability benefits.
    • Statements, records or letters from a State Vocational Rehabilitation Agency counselor.
    • Certification from a private Vocational Rehabilitation or other Counselor that issues or provides disability benefits.
    As the regulation is implemented and used by agencies, this list may grow to include other types of certification. OPM will issue additional guidance to agencies on what constitutes "appropriate documentation" on an "as needed" basis.
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  •   The process of finding a Federal job is not as complex as you may have heard. If you want to be considered for employment with the Federal Government or if you wish to pursue career opportunities once you become an employee, please find job openings via these websites. An electronic listing of all of the latest Federal job opportunities may be obtained from the Office of Personnel Management’s USAJOBS website. It is convenient, user friendly, accessible through the computer or telephone and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.   Many Federal agencies also display electronic employment information and job listings on their websites. You can access this information by visiting the specific Federal agency websites at FIRSTGOV.
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  • A qualified individual with a disability has the skills, experience, education, and other requirements of the job the individual holds or desires, and can perform the essential functions of the position with or without reasonable accommodation.
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