Workplace Personal Assistance


Sarah's Story

Sarah has been at the same job for two years, and likes her work. She has a chronic health condition, but it has not affected her at work. However, recently she had a flare-up that increased her pain and fatigue and is making work more difficult. She is having trouble handling files and preparing her own lunch. She’s worried that these problems may start affecting her job performance. She decides to talk to Manny, a benefits planner who has helped her for the last few years, to discuss the work situation.

“A reasonable accommodation might help you out,” says Manny.

“What’s a reasonable accommodation?” asks Sarah.

Manny replies, “A reasonable accommodation is something that lets you do the essential duties of your job successfully. So, in your case, you’re having difficulties archiving all those files because of your current physical condition. Reasonable accommodations might include your employer getting someone to help you with your filing, building a system where you can use more computer files instead of physical paperwork, or whatever else you think you need to do the job.”

“That is good news!” says Sarah. She continues, “You know, another problem I’m having is preparing my lunch every day. I tend to eat at work. I’m busy in the middle of the day and getting out for lunch can be a real hassle. So I like to eat at my desk. But I tell you, making my lunch every day has been tough since this extra fatigue started up.”

“Well, your employer doesn’t have to offer help with your lunch, because that’s not an essential duty of your job, but I’ve got another idea for that,” says Manny. “This sounds like something In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) might be able to assist you with. You use In-Home Supportive Services at home, don’t you?”

“Sure I do,” says Sarah. “But IHSS is for in-home support, Manny.”

“Well, you can actually use some of your IHSS at work,” replies Manny. “Can one of your IHSS providers come to the office and help prepare lunch?”

“Well, I’ll check if one of my providers is free on weekdays,” says Sarah. “If not, I’ll hire someone new.”

“That’s great,” says Manny. “Transferring IHSS hours to the workplace is pretty straightforward. All you need to do is contact your IHSS eligibility worker, tell them the number of hours you will use at work, and note what services those hours will be used for. The county then needs to approve your use of hours at work before you can actually use them there.”

“Is there any downside to using my IHSS hours at work?” asks Sarah.

“Well, you can’t get extra IHSS hours to use at work; you have to transfer ones that were okayed for use at home,” says Manny. “You still get the standard 283 hours per month you were assigned. So for example, right now you use all 283 hours at home or in the community. If you ask for 20 hours per month at work, which is about one hour each weekday, you’ll still have 263 hours for your other needs.”

“Thank you so much, Manny,” Sarah says. “You are always such a great help.”

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