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

COVID-19 HR RESOURCES:

COVID-19 Related Work Accommodations

Please note: This process has recently changed. Workplace Accommodation requests for an employee’s own health condition, whether COVID-19 related or not, will now follow the standard Workplace Accommodation process. Requests for adjustments or modifications for any other reason (employee preference, childcare issues, high risk family member) should be requested as a flexible work agreement through the employee’s unit.

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

In addition, the Office of Human Resources will work with employees who, due to their own medical condition, are most vulnerable to complications from COVID-19 to ensure that these employees have the necessary resources to work as safely as possible. Through a Workplace Accommodation request, employees will be asked to:

  • Provide documentation from their medical provider supporting their need for accommodation.
  • Provide details about their work environment concerns.
  • Indicate what needs or modifications 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-19 is known. Please visit the CDC coronavirus webpage for the most up to date and complete listing. Some of the most common health factors include:

  • Cancer
  • Chronic lung, kidney or liver disease
  • Diabetes
  • Heart conditions
  • Immunocompromised state

In addition, there may be other medical conditions an employee is experiencing which are not defined by the CDC but may be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic (i.e.: certain developmental disabilities, diagnosed mental health conditions).

All health-related accommodation requests will require employees to provide documentation from their medical provider supporting their need for accommodation.

Ohio State also recognizes that employees may request flexibility for a variety of reasons, including to accommodate the needs of persons living in their household or for whom they provide care. All requests for flexible work or adjustments to standard work which are NOT related to an employee’s own health condition should be pursued under the Flexible Work Policy.

Employees do not need to initiate a COVID-19 accommodation request if they have everything they need to work safely on campus or at home and do not anticipate a change to their work environment.

If you do not yet know the details of upcoming changes to your work environment, please discuss this with your unit HR business partner and/or manager.

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

  • Individually 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 initiate a workplace accommodation for your own health condition, please visit HR Connection and complete the Workplace Accommodation Request inquiry. Submitted forms will be securely routed to Integrated Absence Management and Vocational Services (IAMVS) for initial review.

You will be asked to provide documentation from your medical provider supporting your need for accommodation. Once you provide documentation from your medical provider, IAMVS will work with you and your manager to evaluate your accommodation request. You and your manager will be asked to review and sign-off on any COVID-19 related workplace accommodations, if approved.

This process is designed for Ohio State and the employee to work together to identify potential accommodations that meet both the employee’s needs and the operational requirements of the unit.

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

What are some examples of workplace accommodations?

Some examples of workplace adjustments include:

  • Individually 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

How do I initiate the accommodations process for my own health condition related to COVID-19?

Employees should assess the risk of their own health condition, in consultation with their medical provider. Then, visit HRConnection and complete the Workplace Accommodation Request, which will be routed securely to the Office of Human Resources for review. You will be asked to provide documentation from your medical provider supporting your request. IAMVS will work with your manager, your unit’s HR Business Partner and you to discuss potential accommodations to your work environment.

Who is eligible to request a COVID-19 accommodation ?

Any faculty or staff, including graduate associates, who has a health condition which places them at higher risk of serious complication from COVID-19, or any other medical condition which is affected by COVID-19, and need a modification to their work or workplace may initiate a request for accommodation.

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

The COVID-19 Accommodation Request process is specifically designed for employees who have their own heath conditions which put them at higher risk of complications from COVID-19 infection or other medical conditions which interact with COVID-19.

If you live with someone who has a CDC-defined health risk factor, or need a modification for any other reason, please work with your unit to request a flexible work agreement.

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

The COVID-19 Accommodation Request process is specifically designed for employees who have their own heath conditions that place them at higher risk of complications from COVID-19 infection or other medical conditions which interact with COVID-19.

If your childcare provider is closed or unavailable due to COVID-19 and there is no other suitable childcare option available, please work with your unit to request a flexible work agreement.

What is the benefit to participating in this process?

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

Am I required to complete the form?

No. Employees who already have everything they need to protect themselves on campus or at home are not required to initiate a request. If you have already arranged a flexible arrangement with your manager, you do not need to initiate a request.

However, if you have been advised that your work environment is changing, and you need to pursue an alternative work arrangement because your health condition places you at greater risk of serious illness if the COVID-19 virus is contracted, please initiate a Workplace Accommodation.

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 should consult with your medical provider to determine what safety measures you can take to protect yourself from the COVID-19 virus. If your medical provider determines that your own health condition places you at high risk of serious complications from COVID-19 , despite the safety precautions Ohio State is providing to all employees, your medical provider should outline your needs and provide support that your medical condition rises to the level of disability (as defined by the ADA).

In addition, we recognize that there may be other medical conditions that are impacted more significantly by COVID-19 (i.e.: developmental disabilities, diagnosed mental health conditions).

Because the medical, scientific and public health communities are constantly learning more about the COVID-19 virus and its impacts, additional information and resources can be found on the CDC website.

Will I be required to submit medical documentation?

For accommodation requests related to your own health condition, you will be required to provide information from your medical provider substantiating that you have a disabling condition, and outlining what accommodations are medically necessary, consistent with the standard/non COVID-19 ADA Accommodation Process.

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

Once you have submitted your request for accommodation, you will be provided with the Accommodation Medical Certification form for your medical provider to complete. Once the medical certification has been submitted, IAMVS will contact you to discuss your workplace and accommodations requested to reduce the risk of COVID-19 exposure. IAMVS will walk you and your unit through the evaluation process and document the outcome.

Will my manager be involved?

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

Will my manager have access to my medical information?

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

If I have already spoken with my manager 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 manager 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 from the ADA accommodation process?

COVID-19 Accommodation Requests are specifically for employees with their own disabling health condition(s) which interact with COVID-19. The COVID-19 Accommodation Request and the ADA Workplace Accommodation Request processes are the same process and will be evaluated in the same way. Additional information on Workplace Accommodations under the ADA can be found on the Disability Benefits and Leave Services website.

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.

What is the definition of disability under the ADA?

Based on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a disability is defined as a mental or physical condition that substantially limits a major life activity compared to most people. “Substantial” in this context is somewhat subjective. It means that in your medical provider’s professional opinion, there is a notable, significant, meaningful limit/difference to the manner in which the individual engages in the activity, the conditions necessary for them to engage in the activity, the duration for which they can engage in the activity, or the frequency which they engage in the activity. Major life activities include, but are not limited to, caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, working and the proper functioning of major bodily systems.

Will my data be shared?

The requested accommodation will be shared with your manager 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 by IAMVS.

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 units throughout the interactive process to evaluate any request for accommodation related to an employee’s own health condition, COVID-19 related or not.