How Does the ADA Affect a Human Resource Professional?

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The job of a human resource professional is to assist workers at a company in getting their work done as efficiently and effectively as possible, and the ADA is one of the many factors that influences the job of someone in this field. The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 not only forbids discrimination against employees or job applicants based on disability, but it also requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to disabled employees. Human resources professionals who embrace the spirit of this act and educate themselves and their coworkers on its implementation can create positive, inviting work environments to employees with or without disabilities.

Keeping Employees Comfortable

The primary purpose of the Americans with Disabilities Act is to help workers with disabilities find and maintain gainful employment. This applies to those who are disabled while seeking employment as well as those who become disabled while employed. The initial ADA and subsequent revisions focuses on helping American workers and can also be of help to employers who embrace the heart of the law.

Many studies indicate that workers who are secure in their positions are more productive. Companies that embrace the Americans with Disabilities Act as a way to create a more friendly, welcoming environment for all employees can actually use this law to improve not only the overall work environment but also the productivity of their workers. When disabled individuals don’t need to fear losing their jobs due to circumstances beyond their control, they are more able to focus on their job responsibilities. When this happens, retention rates naturally go up, leaving human resources staff free from the resource-intensive task of constantly hiring new employees to fill vacated positions.

Handling the Costs

One of the first complaints about accommodating individuals with disabilities is the cost involved. Unfortunately, many employers and human resources professionals complain about expenses that are either not relevant or much lower than expected. Only 12 percent of accommodations for individuals with disabilities cost more than $1,000. Furthermore, 31 percent of all accommodations cost nothing, and an additional 19 percent cost $50 or less. This means that employers can provide 50 percent of all accommodations to disabled individuals for less than the price of a nice dinner out for two.

Many times, human resource professionals can see the benefits of accommodating disabled employees before supervisors and executive staff can. For this reason, it’s important for human resources staff to be enthusiastic advocates. Once those holding the purse strings recognize that following the law won’t cost huge amounts of money, they are likely to be more comfortable with implementing practices that welcome a more diverse group of employees.

Human resource professionals have to deal with legal and ethical responsibilities in hiring and retaining employees. Some legal requirements may seem daunting at first, but laws such as the ADA can actually work for you as long as you are willing to be open to making changes that will benefit your company’s disabled employees.

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