The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced a new report finding that nearly half of workplace accommodations made for people with disabilities can be implemented at no cost to employers, and of those that do incur a one-time cost, the median expenditure has decreased when compared to previous reports to only $300.
According to the DOL, an accommodation is a modification to the work environment or the way a job is customarily done to enable a qualified individual with a disability to enjoy equal employment opportunities. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), covered employers must provide reasonable accommodations for applicants and employees with disabilities, when requested, unless doing so would cause an undue hardship.
The new report, “Accommodation and Compliance: Low Cost, High Impact,” was released by the DOL-backed Job Accommodation Network (JAN) and analyzes survey data collected from employers from 2019 to 2022. These employers represent a wide array of industry sectors (e.g., manufacturing, service, and wholesale/retail sales) and sizes (from small businesses to Fortune 500 mega-companies). Survey respondents initially contacted JAN to obtain specific information about workplace accommodations, the ADA, or both.
Five Key Findings
1. Employers want to provide accommodations so they can retain valued and qualified employees.
More than half of the (55%) employers surveyed reported they called JAN to retain a current employee. On average, employees associated with a JAN request had been with the company for 6 years and 1 month. Typical (median) wages for these employees were $18.00 for those paid by the hour and $64,100 for those with an annual salary. In addition, 66% of the individuals for whom the employer requested accommodation information had a college associate degree or higher.
2. Most employers report no cost or low cost for accommodating employees with disabilities.
Of the 720 employers who provided cost information related to accommodations they had provided, 49.4% said the accommodations needed by their employee cost nothing. Another43.3% experienced a one-time cost. Only 7.2% said the accommodation resulted in an ongoing, annual cost to the company. Of those accommodations that did have a one-time cost, the median one-time expenditure as reported by the employer was $300. Those with ongoing accommodation costs had a median annual cost of $3,750.
3. Employers report accommodations are effective.
Employers who had implemented accommodations were asked to rank the effectiveness of the accommodations on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being extremely effective. Of the 1,328 responding to the question regarding effectiveness, the majority (68.4%) reported the accommodations were either very effective or extremely effective at helping workers with disabilities perform their job duties. Another 18.3% of employers reported the accommodations to be somewhat effective, and only 13% reported them to be ineffective.
4. Employers who made accommodations report multiple direct and indirect benefits, including increased employee retention and cost savings.
- Retained a valued employee: 85%
- Increased the employee’s productivity: 53%
- Increased the employee’s attendance: 48%
- Eliminated costs associated with training a new employee: 46%
- Increased diversity of the company: 33%
- Saved workers’ compensation or other insurance costs: 23%
- Hired a qualified person with a disability: 18%
- Promoted an employee: 8%
- Improved interactions with co-workers: 34%
- Increased safety: 31%
- Increased overall company morale: 30%
- Improved interactions with customers: 22%
- Increased overall company productivity: 21%
- Increased overall company attendance: 19%
5. Employers find JAN helpful during the accommodation process.
Ninety-seven percent of employers reported that JAN understood their needs. In addition, 93% stated the information JAN sent them met their needs. And 100% of employers stated they would use JAN again.
Learn more about JAN here.