Faculty/Staff Disability Management

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Reasonable Accommodation

Federal and state disability laws, UC policies and procedures, and collective bargaining agreements all mandate assistance to employees with disabilities in remaining at work or returning to work.

It is the responsibility of supervisors and employees to cooperatively interact in order to discuss, explore, identify, implement and monitor accommodations.

While this process generally falls under the purview of Berkeley, People and Culture, Disability Management can also play a key role in assisting faculty, staff, and departments.

Students requiring accommodation assistance should contact the Disabled Students' Program.

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What is a Reasonable Accommodation?

As defined by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), a reasonable accommodation is modifications or adjustments that are:

  • effective in enabling an applicant with a disability to have an equal opportunity to be considered for a desired job
  • effective in enabling an employee to perform the essential functions of the job the employee holds or desires
  • effective in enabling an employee with a disability to enjoy equivalent benefits and privileges of employment as are enjoyed by similarly situated employees without disabilities

Request for Accommodation

In most cases, the request for an accommodation is initiated by the employee or when the disability and/or need for accommodation is obvious.

Medical Documentation

Employees may be required to provide appropriate medical documentation specifying functional limitations and work restrictions.

Examples of Accommodation

Reasonable accommodation may include, but not limited to, changes such as:

  • Job restructuring
  • Modified work schedule
  • Job-site modifications
  • Acquisition of equipment and devices
  • Leave of absence
  • Reassignment to a vacant position

What is the Interactive Process?

An on-going,  timely and good faith communication between the employee and manager/supervisor to explore whether or not the employee needs reasonable accommodation for the employee’s disability to perform the essential functions of the job, and if so, how the person can be reasonably accommodated.

Steps to the Interactive Process

Since all reasonable accommodations are case-specific, the Interactive Process can vary.  Below are the basic steps: 

  • Employee requests accommodation or the supervisor becomes aware of a need for accommodation.
  • Supervisor consults with HR Partner, as needed.
  • Employee provides medical documentation of work restrictions.
  • Supervisor reviews essential and non-essential job tasks.
  • Supervisor together with the employee discuss whether or not the work restrictions impact the ability to perform the essential functions of the job.
  • Supervisor and employee interact in order to identify potential accommodation alternatives.
  • Supervisor and employee discuss, explore, and assess the effectiveness of each potential accommodation.
  • Implement the accommodation. 
  • Supervisor and employee monitor the continuing effectiveness of the accommodation.
  • Supervisor should document each step of this process.

Assistance from Disability Management can be requested during any part of this process.

How We Can Help

Disability Management provides:

  • Confidential consultation to faculty and staff whose disability may impact their ability to work
  • Guidance on topics such as leaves of absence, reasonable accommodation and the interactive process
  • Confidential communication between the University and health care providers in order to obtain or clarify functional limitations and work restrictions
  • Technical assistance in exploring options for reasonable accommodation
  • Guidance to managers, supervisors and HR partners on workplace disability matters