requirement. Leave as an accommodation
may fit within these guidelines; determination
should be made based on the job duties of
the position and impact on the business.
Other options may also be effective that
would help the employee return to or remain
at work—possibly alternative scheduling,
telecommuting or changing work locations.
Some employers offer job search to help find
alternative positions that will accommodate
employees if they are no longer able to
perform their essential duties.
While legal compliance is of utmost
concern, flexibility and advocacy can go
a long way toward maintaining employee
morale and workplace productivity. Ensure
employees are heard, that their input is
considered and, ultimately, they know you
care about them and want to help.
When considering leave as part of the
ADA/ADAAA process, focus on compliance
and advocacy. As human resource and risk
professionals, it is your responsibility to
ensure compliance—for the protection of
your workers and your enterprise.
• Establish consistent procedures that
trigger the interactive process.
• Educate your leaders so they know when
to get assistance from ADA resource(s).
• Review job descriptions to ensure
essential functions are detailed—consider
whether regular attendance is an essential
• Document within a centralized
best means for implementing consistent
procedures and also for providing a strong
defense in case of legal challenges.
Focus on taking care of employees and
getting them back to meaningful work and a
• Educate employees about the ADA/
ADAAA process and its intent. Most
employees don’t understand the differences
in the ADA, FMLA, and short-term and long-term disability, and frustration overall can cast
a negative light on a process intended for
• Impact return to work and productivity—
rather than relying on leave whenever it
is suggested as an accommodation, what
other solutions can be proposed? Is work
from home, even intermittently, an option?
Can other workplace modifications be
Where Can You Turn for Assistance?
Sedgwick has years of experience
ensuring employer ADA/ADAAA
compliance. We look at situations from an
overall absence-management perspective—
considering FMLA entitlements, ADA/
ADAAA requirements and available return-to-work options. Our specialists facilitate the
interactive process so our clients can focus
on making informed decisions about what
accommodations are reasonable for their
Even if Sedgwick is not your partner, we
offer additional resources for employers,
answering questions that arise at the
intersection of ADA/ADAAA, leave and other
benefits. Take a look and contact us for more
• Sedgwick/HRE “Compliance crossroads”
ADA/ADAAA webinar: http://youtu.be/
• the edge, “Keys to compliance”: http://
• Sedgwick Connection blog: http://blog.
• ADA accommodation overview: http://
• Integrated disability management white
• White paper: Managing the new ADA:
• SaaS: LeaveLink/ADALink: http://www.
“Intermittent leave is a challenge for us.”
Does this sound familiar?
When it comes to managing leave and
maintaining compliance as it intersects with
other benefits—including the Americans
with Disabilities Act/ADA Amendments Act,
Family and Medical Leave Act and workers’
compensation—the same questions come up
again and again. Leave, including intermittent
leave, as an accommodation has become
much more common since the ADAAA took
effect in 2009, and compliance challenges will
continue to be a hot topic in 2016.
Approach ADA concerns in the spirit of
collaboration and think creatively to find
accommodations. The ADA/ADAAA was
designed to protect disabled individuals
and aid them in performing the essential
functions of a job. An employee does not
have to ask for an ADA accommodation. If
you see an employee impacted by a disabling
condition—if he or she has been away under
FMLA or a workers’ compensation claim
and has difficulty returning to full capacity,
for example—it is important to start the
interactive process and discuss possible
Leave as an accommodation, even on an
intermittent basis, is acceptable under ADA/
ADAAA provisions, and is something many
employers explore. However, it may not
always be the most reasonable or beneficial
option for the employer or employee.
Scheduling can become a challenge,
particularly with intermittent leave. We’re
seeing leave used as an extension of FMLA;
an employee could potentially be eligible for
leave beyond his or her 12 weeks of federal
entitlement. Is leave as an accommodation
keeping employees from realizing the
benefits of remaining in a productive work
environment? What creative solutions may be
available to minimize time away from work?
It’s important to remember, even
under requirements for reasonable
accommodations, that an employee must
still be able to complete essential job
functions and maintain performance levels—
lowering standards is not an ADA/ADAAA
Compliance When Leave is Involved
Senior Vice President, Disability and Absence Management Practice and Compliance
Sedgwick Claims Management Services Inc.