What is a reasonable accommodation in the workplace?

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A reasonable accommodation is an adjustment or modification to a job or workplace that enables an employee to perform the essential duties of the job successfully. The reasonable accommodation does not change the essential job functions but is related to them. The employee must be capable of performing the essential duties of the job with or without the reasonable accommodation.

Examples:

  • An employee who is blind can request a computer screen reader; or
  • An employee with a mental health condition can request a flexible work schedule and can request to schedule time away from work for medical reasons.

Do I have to tell my employer about a disabling condition?

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No. Unless you are requesting a reasonable accommodation, you are not required to disclose a disabling condition. Even then, employers can only request the documentation that is needed to establish the existence of a disability and the need for reasonable accommodation. This means that in most situations your employer cannot request your entire medical record.

Do all employers have to comply with reasonable accommodation rules?

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No. Reasonable accommodation protections from the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) cover employers with 15 or more employees. California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) covers employers with five or more employees. Employers with less than five employees do not have to comply with reasonable accommodation rules.

What are Personal Assistance Services (PAS)?

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In general, personal assistance services can allow a person with a disability to live and work in the most integrated setting. Personal assistance services can include attendant services, assistance with transportation to and from work, reader services, business travel assistance, or job coaches.

Must my employer supply me with personal assistance services in the workplace if I need them?

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Workplace personal assistance services can be used to enable the employee to perform the essential duties of the job. In general, under the ADA, an employer must supply personal assistance services if those services are job-related and not primarily for the personal benefit of the employee.

How can personal assistance services be paid for?

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  • Supplied by an employer as a reasonable accommodation under certain circumstances;
  • Supplied by Medi-Cal through the In-Home Supportive Services program; and
  • Paid for using your own resources.

Can I transfer my In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) hours to the workplace?

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Yes. Assembly Bill 925 (AB 925) authorized use of In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) hours at the workplace. California's Department of Social Services released All County Letter No. 04-43 (ACL 04-43) describing how IHSS can be used in the workplace.

Can I use IHSS hours to have somebody drive me to work?

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Current IHSS rules allow for accompaniment to medical appointments and other approved sites. They do not allow for travel to and from the workplace though.

Can I use IHSS hours to attend college classes or vocational training?

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No. IHSS services cannot be used to attend college classes or vocational training. You can, however, use IHSS services to attend training offered or required by your employer.

Am I eligible for more IHSS hours now that I am using some of them at work?

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No. Assembly Bill (AB 925) allows you to transfer IHSS hours to the workplace, but it does not increase the number of available hours. The maximum number of hours an individual can qualify for remains at 283 hours per month.

What activities can I use my IHSS hours for in the workplace?

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You can use your IHSS hours for any activity that helps you obtain or retain employment. This includes assistance with:
  • interviewing for a job;
  • training that is required by the employer;
  • preparation of meals;
  • personal care services; and
  • paramedical services.

Types of services that cannot be transferred to the workplace include:

  • yard clean-up;
  • laundry assistance; and
  • cleaning assistance.

If you already have IHSS hours approved for yard clean-up, laundry and cleaning assistance, you will not be allowed to transfer these hours to the workplace.

If my employer is providing workplace personal assistance, can he or she take away other accommodations already provided?

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No. AB 925 states that “workplace services shall not be used to supplant (replace) any reasonable accommodations required of an employer by the Americans with Disabilities Act, or other legal entitlements or third-party obligations.” Such services can be from the California Department of Rehabilitation, the Veterans’ Administration, workers' compensation coverage or other entitlements or resources.

How do I go about transferring my IHSS hours to the workplace?

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To transfer your IHSS hours to the workplace:
  1. Contact your IHSS eligibility worker to let them know you are interested in transferring your hours to the workplace.
  2. Specify the number of hours that you want to transfer to the workplace and what services those hours will be used for.
  3. The county must then authorize the use of IHSS hours in the workplace before individual use.
  4. Your IHSS eligibility worker will notify you if your request to transfer your hours is approved or denied.