The ADAAA’s stated goal is to shift the focus from whether an employee is disabled to whether employers are complying with their obligations under the law.
Employers should review and update these doc- uments to ensure that the essential functions for each position are accurately described.
Mistake #3. Cut the budget for RTW. Employers seeking to cut expenses may target RTW programs. Yet, cutting or delaying such programs can result in higher costs both now and in the future.
Explain why it is important to return to work and the steps that are being taken to ensure the employees’ safety. Be sure job assignments meet the medical restrictions set by the treating physician and stay in touch with the employees as to their comfort level with the assignment.
When faced with litigation, employers, in many cases, will no longer be able to argue over whether the worker is covered by the ADA. Employers will need to have an interactive process with disabled workers, wherein the employer discusses with the workers the rea- sonable accommodations that will allow them to perform their essential job duties. They will need to make sure managers know their obliga- tions to provide reasonable accommodations and do not reject requests without appropriate analysis. The longer an employee is out on injury leave, the higher the cost, adversely affecting claim reserves and ultimately the Experience Modification Factor as well as increasing the likelihood of litigation.
Mistake #4. Believe that RTW cannot address musculoskeletal injuries such as back pain. Low back pain is the most prevalent
Under the ADAAA, it is permissible for an employer to reserve “light-duty” jobs for those with work-related disabilities and these jobs should be distinct from transitional tasks. The ADAAA also stipulates that “reasonable accom- modations” include, but are not limited to mak- ing existing facilities used by employees readily accessible, job restructuring, part-time or modi- fied work schedules, reassignment to a vacant position, acquisition or modification of equip- ment or devices, appropriate adjustment or Continued on page 28