Workplace Personal Assistance

Common Pitfalls

Failing to Request a Reasonable Accommodation

In California, employers of five or more must follow the reasonable accommodation rules. If you need an adjustment to your job or workplace for you to successfully do the essential duties of your current job, you should ask your employer for that adjustment. This discussion is usually not confrontational; both you and your employer have an interest in your success.

Disclosing More Than Needed

You are never required to tell your employer about a disabling condition, except when you are asking for a reasonable accommodation. Even then, your employer can only ask for documentation that shows you have a disability and need reasonable accommodation. In most situations this means they cannot ask for your entire medical record.

Not Understanding What Qualifies as Job-Related Personal Assistance

Workplace personal assistance may or may not qualify as a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or California's Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). In general, workplace personal assistance services may be considered a reasonable accommodation if the assistance is job-related and not primarily for your personal benefit.

Not Identifying All Available Funding Sources

Workplace personal assistance services may be:

  • Supplied by an employer as a reasonable accommodation under certain circumstances
  • Supplied by Medi-Cal through its In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) program
  • Paid for using your own resources

Consider all possibilities when deciding how to get the services you need. In some cases, a mix of funding is the right approach.

Note: IHSS may let you use some of your hours of personal assistance services at work, but that doesn’t mean you get more total hours of personal assistance services. The most you can get is 283 hours per month. If you use IHSS hours at work, you won’t have as many to use at home.

Other ways to pay for workplace personal assistance without IHSS

If you do not get IHSS or do not want to use your IHSS hours at work, other agencies or programs may also help you pay for workplace personal assistance, including the Department of Rehabilitation (DOR), the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), workers' compensation coverage, or other programs. To explore which other programs may be available, contact a benefits planner.

Not Understanding the Personal Assistance Accompaniment Rules

You can use In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) hours to have a personal assistant accompany you for some types of travel, but not others.

You can use IHSS hours to have an assistant go with you:

  • To and from medical appointments
  • To attend training offered or required by employer

You cannot use IHSS hours to have an assistant go with you:

  • To and from work
  • To attend college classes
  • To attend vocational training

Learn more