COVID-19 Related Work Accommodations - Human Resources at Ohio State

COVID-19 HR RESOURCES:

COVID-19 Related Work Accommodations

Ohio State is preparing to welcome faculty and staff back to campus with new health and wellness protocols developed to help protect the entire Buckeye community. These protocols include:

  • Appropriate and regular cleaning of office spaces
  • Physical distancing
  • Reducing the density of office and workspaces
  • Health monitoring and testing
  • Hygiene and personal protection
  • Revised meeting and event protocols

In addition, the Office of Human Resources will work with employees who are most vulnerable to complications from COVID-19, and their supervisors, to ensure that these individuals have the necessary resources to work as safely as possible. Through a COVID-19 accommodation request, which is a secure intake process, individuals will be asked to:

  • Identify and attest that their health or other factor place them at greater risk of serious illness if they contract the COVID-19 virus.
  • Provide details about their work environment concerns.
  • Indicate what needs and resources they feel are necessary to perform their job safely.

Helpful Documents

Detailed Information

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides guidance on health related factors which may increase the risk of complications from COVID-19. The list of factors may evolve as additional information about COVID is known, so please visit the CDC coronavirus webpage for the most up to date and complete listing.  Some of the most common health factors include:

  • Asthma (moderate-to-severe)
  • Chronic lung disease
  • Diabetes
  • Serious heart conditions
  • Chronic kidney disease being treated with dialysis
  • Liver disease
  • Compromised immune system

 Other factors recognized by CDC include:

  • Severe obesity
  • Older adults

Ohio State also recognizes that employees may request flexibility to accommodate the needs of persons living in their household or for whom they provide care. These needs may arise from:

  • CDC-recognized high-risk factors
  • COVID-19 related child care unavailability or school closure

In addition, there may be other medical conditions an employee is experiencing which are not defined by the CDC, but may be affected by COVID-19 (i.e.: developmental disabilities, diagnosed mental health conditions). In these instances, HR IAMVS will work with the individual to obtain appropriate medical documentation and determine if reasonable accommodations exist to meet the employee’s individual need.

Faculty and staff who have everything they need to work safely on campus or are working remotely do not need to initiate a COVID-19 accommodation request.

Based on the work environment, some examples of possible workplace adjustments to reduce the risk of COVID-19 exposure include:

  • Specifically fitted personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Workstation alteration (i.e. barrier shield, change in exit/entry paths)
  • Alternative work schedules
  • Flexible work locations
  • Additional sanitation/cleaning

To request a COVID-19 related accommodation, please click the button below and complete the form.  All submitted forms will be securely routed to HR Integrated Absence Management and Vocational Services (IAMVS) for initial review.

COVID-19 Accommodation Request Form

After submission and initial review by HR, your COVID-19 accommodation request will be routed for further review by either:

  • A member of the HR IAMVS team, or
  • Your supervisor (or another department designee)

Please Note: Your medical information will not be provided to your supervisor or unit. They will receive the minimal amount of non-medical information necessary to complete their review and determination.

You may be contacted to provide additional information or clarification, and to discuss your request. You and your supervisor will be asked to review and sign-off on any COVID-19 related workplace accommodations.

What are some examples of workplace adjustments?

Some examples of workplace adjustments include:

  • Alternative work schedules
  • Specifically fitted personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Physical alterations to workstation, office or classroom environment
  • Remote work

The process is designed for Ohio State and the employee to work together to identify potential adjustments and accommodations which meet both the employee’s needs and the operational requirements of the department.

How do I initiate the accommodations process?

Employees should assess their own risk based on known factors and the information available above. Then, complete the COVID-19 Accommodation Request Form, which will be routed securely for review to the Office of Human Resources. HR will work with your supervisor, your unit’s HR business partner and you to begin discussions about potential adjustments or accommodations to your workplace environment.

Who is eligible to participate in the COVID-19 accommodation process?

Any faculty or staff, including graduate associates, who identify a need for potential modification to their work due to COVID-19 may participate.

Should I participate in this process if I live with someone who has a CDC-defined health risk factor?

If you live with someone who has a CDC defined health risk factor, and you, your household member and their medical provider consider it necessary to request additional precautions related to the medical condition, you should participate in this process.

Should I participate in this process if I have child care issues directly related to COVID-19?

If your child care provider is closed or unavailable due to COVID-19, there is no other suitable child care option available, and you have exhausted any available expanded Family and Medical Leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), you should participate in this process to request a modification.

What is the benefit to participating in this process?

Your safety is important to the university, and some employees may have situations which make COVID-19 more impactful. This process offers an opportunity to request workplace adjustments or accommodations for those who have needs outside of the safety precautions offered to all faculty and staff.

Am I required to complete the form?

No. Faculty and staff who already have everything they need to protect themselves on campus or are working remotely are not required to initiate a request. If you have already arranged with your supervisor to continue remote work through the fall semester, you do not need to initiate an assessment.

However, if you have been asked to return to campus to fulfill your role and you wish to pursue an alternative work arrangement because identified health or other factor places you or a member of your household at greater risk of serious illness if the COVID-19 virus is contracted, please initiate a request.

What medical factors should I consider when determining whether I am vulnerable to a serious illness, or live with someone who is, when we are exposed to COVID-19?

You or someone you live with may be more vulnerable if certain conditions as defined by the CDC are already present. Some of these conditions may include:

  • Asthma (moderate-to-severe)
  • Chronic lung disease
  • Diabetes
  • Serious heart conditions
  • Chronic kidney disease being treated with dialysis
  • Liver disease
  • Compromised immune system
  • Severe obesity
  • Older adults (aged 65 years and older)

For an employee’s own health situation, we recognize that there may be other medical conditions that are affected by COVID-19 (i.e.: developmental disabilities, diagnosed mental health conditions). In those cases, HR Integrated Absence Management and Vocational Services (IAMVS) will work with the individual to obtain appropriate medical documentation and determine if reasonable accommodations exist to meet the employee’s individual need.

Because the medical, scientific and public health communities are constantly learning more about the COVID-19 virus and its impacts, it is possible that the list of medical factors could change. View the latest CDC recommendations.

Will I be required to submit medical documentation?

For an employee’s own medical condition, which may be covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA), you will need to provide information substantiating your need for an accommodation, consistent with the current ADA Accommodation Process.

What happens after I submit a COVID-19 accommodation request form?

Once employees have initiated the process and pending review of the request, Human Resources or the employee’s supervisor (or department designee) will contact them to discuss their workplace, work assignments and potential adjustments to reduce the risk of COVID-19 exposure.

Will my supervisor be involved?

Yes. Your supervisor will work with HR to determine if the request for accommodation is reasonable and/or can be met.

Will my supervisor have access to my medical information?

No. HR will review and maintain any medical documentation and provide your supervisor/department with only the non-medical information necessary for them to consider the requested accommodation.

If I have already spoken with my supervisor or HR business partner and arranged a plan for my return to work, do I need to initiate this process?

No, if you have already spoken with either your supervisor or HR business partner and have made necessary workplace adjustments, you do not need to initiate this process.

Is the COVID accommodation request process different form the ADA accommodation process?

The COVID accommodation request process may be the first step in participating in the ADA accommodation process. If your health condition is covered by the ADA and supported by medical documentation, HR Integrated Absence Management will work with the employee, medical professional and supervisor to review workplace accommodations that are effective for the employee and reasonable in the workplace. COVID accommodations may be requested for situations unique to the COVID pandemic, which are not covered by the ADA.

What is an ADA accommodation?

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a reasonable accommodation is assistance or change to the workplace that enables an employee to perform the essential functions of their job.

Will my data be shared?

The requested accommodation will be shared with your supervisor and your unit’s HR business partner to help determine if modifications to your work can be made. Medical information and documentation will not be shared with your supervisor or department. It will be stored securely in HR.

A note about this, and other types of accommodations: In accordance with federal law, The Ohio State University is committed to providing reasonable accommodations to ensure employees with any qualifying disability have access to employment opportunities. Integrated Absence Management and Vocational Services (IAMVS), in consultation with the university’s ADA Coordinator’s Office, will continue to partner with employees and departments throughout the interactive process. Accommodations granted outside of those required under the ADA Amendments Act are at the discretion of the department and are subject to change at any time.