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Frequently Asked Questions Employment

Disability Employment

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    Yes. The Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, requires Federal agencies to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified employees or applicants with disabilities, unless doing so would cause an undue hardship to the agency. An undue hardship means that a specific accommodation would require significant difficulty or expense. A reasonable accommodation is any change to a job, the work environment, or the way things are usually done that allows an individual with a disability to apply for a job, perform the essential job functions, or enjoy equal access to benefits available to other individuals in the workplace.

     

    Federal agencies are required by Executive Order 13164 (EO 12164) to develop written procedures for providing reasonable accommodation. You may gain greater understanding of your specific situation and alternatives available to you by reading the agency's reasonable accommodation procedures. Different agencies place responsibility for reasonable accommodation in different offices. Contact the agency's personnel office, reasonable accommodation coordinator, civil rights office, selective

    placement program coordinator, disability program manager or EEO office to request a copy of an agency's written procedures.

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  • First, contact your human resources office and your organization's Persons with Disabilities (PWD) Manager (or equivalent). Your agency may already have established recruiting and referral relationships with organizations serving people with disabilities, such as:

    Federal agencies may work directly with these organizations to refer candidates for employment opportunities using the excepted appointing authorities for hiring people with disabilities. Your agency's Plan for Employment of People with Disabilities may also include good sources of qualified candidates with disabilities for your vacancies. In addition, individuals with disabilities may always apply for vacancy announcements that are open to the general public.

    The Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP) for college students with disabilities is a great source of potential candidates when considering college students with disabilities for employment. Employers can access the WRP candidate database by contacting their agency's WRP representative (usually in the human resources office).

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  • OPM is changing the procedures in support of the President's "New Freedom Initiative" introduced in 2001, which encourages Federal agencies to consider employment opportunities for people with disabilities. The regulation improves the Federal Government's ability to hire persons with these disabilities. It is designed to remove possible barriers and increase employment opportunities for persons with disabilities.
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  • Employers have found that people with disabilities and people without disabilities are about the same in terms of attendance and job performance. Perhaps the longest recurring study of employment issues concerning people with disabilities was done by DuPont, a private corporation. For over 35 years, this DuPont study has shown that employees with disabilities are equivalent to other DuPont employees in job performance, attendance and safety.
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  • All denials of reasonable accommodation requests must be made in writing, and the decision must specify the reason for the denial. The denial should be written in plain language, clearly stating the specific reasons for the denial. After denying a request, the individual must be informed that s/he has the right to file an EEO complaint, has the right to pursue any applicable union grievance and informal alternative dispute resolution.

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  • Yes.
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  • The date the regulation goes into effect is 30 days after publication in the Federal Register.
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  • People with disabilities who work in offices have been using service animals successfully for many years. Service animals may accompany a person with a disability to the office, cafeteria, meetings, and on travel. Since service animals are alert to the needs of their owner, it is important not to interfere or distract them while they are working. Most service animals sleep when not providing service and need to have a safe rest area of adequate size located near their owner. The person with a disability should be allowed to provide water and food rewards for their animal. Offices that are already wheelchair accessible usually have wider hallways and doorways that are accessible enough to provide the individual full access while walking with their animal.

    Individuals with disabilities who use service animals must be allowed time to attend to their basic needs. It is not the responsibility of office colleagues to provide care for the service animal. For more information, see People with Disabilities in the Federal Government: An Employment Guide located on this website.

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  • Reasonable accommodations that can be requested include, but are not limited to, the following:

      • making existing facilities accessible;
      • restructuring the job;
      • utilizing part-time or modified work schedules;
      • adjusting or modifying tests, training materials, or policies;
      • providing qualified readers and interpreters;
      • acquiring or modifying equipment; and
      • reassigning an individual to a vacant position for which the employee must be qualified.
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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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