Defining Reasonable Accommodation For Disabled People In The Workplace

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When it comes to accommodating people with disabilities in the workplace, what is expected from employers? Dionne Kerr defines the role of employers based on the legal requirements set out by the Employment Equity Act.


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Many companies are concerned about the lengths they may be expected to go to when employing or seeking to employ a person with disability. Siyakha Consulting puts these fears to rest.
"When working on a client?s disability management strategy we are often asked for guidance about "reasonable accommodation, which is defined by the Employment Equity Act as "adjustment to a job or to the working environment that will enable a person from a designated group (women, disabled and black people) to have access to or participate or advance in employment,' says Dionne Kerr, the executive director of Siyakha Consulting.
South Africa is also a signatory to, and has ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).
This offers a definition of "reasonable accommodation? as "necessary and appropriate modification and adjustment, not imposing a disproportionate or undue burden, where needed in a particular case, to ensure to persons with disabilities the enjoyment or exercise on an equal basis with others of all human rights and fundamental freedoms.?

"When implementing a disability programme it is critical to identify the areas where the company can reasonably accommodate individuals with a disability. South African companies may therefore need to adjust their existing human resources policies and procedures to include a reasonable accommodation policy,' says Kerr.

"Whatever the accommodation, it is imperative that your policy and procedure be fair and equal, while at all times ensuring each employee is treated as an independent case,' she explains.
An example of what is reasonable accommodation would be allowing a physically impaired person extra time to arrive at work, whilst unreasonable would be big ticket items such as the purchase of a car or hiring of a chauffeur for that employee.
For more information about reasonable accommodation in your organisation, contact Cathy van der Zwan on 011 706 9006 or email [email protected]

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