Telecommuting: Not Just a Benefit for Workers with Disabilities

Filed under Career Resources

Telecommuting isn’t just a fringe benefit for workers with disabilities, it’s an essential accommodation.

Telecommuting: Not Just a Benefit for Workers with DisabilitiesBecause there may be times going into the office just isn’t feasible, the ability to work from home is a necessity for workers with disabilities. Thankfully, more employers today are considering telecommuting a reasonable work accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) states that employers must make reasonable accommodations for job applicants or employees with disabilities, except when adjustments would cause an undue hardship to the organization.

Accommodations like modified scheduling, arrangements for leave, changes to workplace policies, and job restructuring do not cause undue hardship and are easily put into place so workers with disabilities have equal opportunities for employment. Telecommuting is no different. Establishing telecommuting as a reasonable accommodation also realizes the following benefits:

Larger applicant pool. Telecommuting takes the notion of finding the “best candidate for the job” from talked about to tangible. Organizations that implement work-from-home arrangements open the door to talented, highly-qualified professionals who may have struggled to secure traditional employment due to disability bias. Telecommuting is a vehicle for disabled workers to achieve long-term employment that may otherwise be impossible.

Improved Performance and Satisfaction Levels. Telecommuting typically leads a higher employee retention rate. According to a recent work-from-home study by Stanford University, staff who telecommute realized a 13% increase in productivity, improved work satisfaction levels, and fewer sick days. The employer also saw a reduction in attrition rates during the 9 month study.

81% of professionals with disabilities would like to telecommute, at least part time.” -Think Beyond the Label

Flexibility. Telecommuting as a reasonable accommodation adds an invaluable level of flexibility to the lives of disabled professionals. In addition to being able to attend medical appointments without missing a day of work, telecommuting helps workers with chronic illnesses build rewarding careers and achieve financial independence. For employees with autoimmune diseases like Lupus, working from home reduces their risk of exposure to infection and other ailments that can weaken their immune system.

Cost effectiveness. The idea of instituting a new workplace practice like telecommuting may make employers cringe with fear of associated costs, their fretting is unfounded. Work-from-home policies save money. According to WorkWithoutLimits.org, telecommute arrangements could save U.S. employers between $48-$96 billion dollars each year in money that would have otherwise been spent on disability payments, personnel changes, and workers’ compensation claims.

Are you a disabled person who wants to work from home or an employer considering telecommuting as a reasonable accommodation for workers with disabilities? We want to hear your story.

image credit: FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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