News From LIFE Inc

EMPLOYERS SHOULD MOVE BEYOND MERE ADA COMPLIANCE

For more than a quarter of a century employers have felt a level of exasperation with ADA compliance, partly because it’s complicated and partly because the rules have repeatedly changed. ADA compliance hasn’t been easy but the hard part is not the discrimination against people with disabilities. The hard part is reasonable accommodation.

Any legal concept that can be summed up by the words “case by case” is inherently messy and fraught with peril. Employers are better at complying with fixed and easily digested rules. Reasonable accommodation requires employers to think differently and consider how to “break the rules” – meaning allowing individuals with disabilities to perform essential functions of a job differently than it may have been performed for decades. Change is hard!

Lost in this “compliance” issue has been the opportunity to embrace the employment of individuals with disabilities. We want to increase the ranks of people with disabilities in our workforces. The ADA is unique because it requires affirmative action in reasonable accommodation as well as the hiring and advancement of individuals with disabilities.

The first reason to hire people with disabilities is the human factor. There is a strong desire and capacity for individuals with disabilities to contribute. The second reason is existing and future employees will be delighted with the hiring and advancing people with disabilities. Doing the right thing builds morale and gives employees a proud feeling about the place they work. Proud employees are happy employees. Happy employees are more loyal and productive.

The third reason to hire people with disabilities is it improves the bottom line. They tend to stay with jobs they occupy, and this labor pool can help fill the expected labor shortage over the next two decades as baby boomers retire.

And the final reason – it increases the diversity of our workforce and brings powerful ideas and viewpoints to the table.