Reasonable Accommodation: A Factor for a Favourable Work Environment

Monday, March 4, 2024

Reasonable accommodation: a factor for a favourable work environment

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As an employer of labour, it is expected of any employee in your organization to dutifully perform tasks assigned to him/her without any necessary supervision. After all, what is the essence of an employee’s existence in the organization? However, whether we choose to deny or affirm, employees consider the level of conduciveness of work environment and their relationship with their employer as a drive for productivity and like factors, they weigh when picking a choice between quitting a job to take on another. Asides the usual salary benefit and added allowances, paid leave, holidays; another important consideration for them is ‘reasonable accommodation’. The term ‘reasonable accommodation initially encompassed benefits for disabled employees, however, recently, it has been stretched beyond the initial conventional meaning to cover adjustments for other employees also. Nonetheless, the concept is usually expressed from the view of disability.

Consider Rose’s situation: Rose was employed alongside Dammy as an office assistant. In their job description, it is expected of them to run errands, answer phone calls, maintain filing system, retrieve files upon request. However, Rose began feeling pains in her upper back and she could not lift heavy files. Eventually, she found out that she had a spine inflammation. In other words, she could not lift heavy bound volumes of files, she could not retrieve files on request as quickly as they were needed. What was to be done? Rose went and explained her situation to her employer, expecting that her job description would be reviewed and adjusted.

For Rose, a reasonable accommodation is expected. Wikipedia explains that a reasonable accommodation is: “an adjustment made in the system to accommodate or make fair the same system for an individual based on a proven need.” Additionally, it is important to understand that reasonable accommodation is not confined to health-related situations alone; religious and domestic situations may also be considered. In Rose’s case, it will seem fair to specifically distribute duties between her and Dammy. Dammy could be assigned the duty of retrieving files and maintaining filing system while Rose could be put in charge of answering phone calls and running less demanding errands, and maybe a few simple tasks could be added to her job description.

Also, reasonable accommodation can also be the provision of equipment for the effective performance of an employee’s duty, especially an employee with a disability. This is a method of expressing empathy towards employees and making them understand that the services they provide are recognised and invaluable to the development of the organisation; consequently, more input towards effective productivity will be provided.

Finally, the reasonable accommodation also encompasses: consenting to substitute methods of accomplishing tasks that may not have been indicated in the job description, reforming duties, supplying equipment and training materials and providing an assistant. These will definitely make tasks less demanding, faster to execute and easier to deal with.

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