California’s COVID-19 emergency is scheduled to end on February 28, 2023, and California’s Supplemental COVID Supplemental Sickness Benefit has already subsided, but the impact of the pandemic continues to affect employers in California. Recently, there has been a significant increase in employee demands for mental health issues such as depression, stress and anxiety related to pandemic issues.
California employees reported mental health concerns, including depression from being isolated while working from home, stress from staffing shortages during COVID-related vacations, and anxiety from facing employers’ mandates to return to office work. Raised, there are many issues that employers should keep in mind.
Here are some quick tips for dealing with mental health accommodations.
- avoid stereotypesAs society becomes more open about mental health, stereotypes about those who deal with mental health issues are becoming less common. It is important to remind people of Comments such as employees being “pretend” or being “soft” because they can’t handle it are never appropriate. Employers have a duty to prevent discrimination and harassment on the basis of disability, including mental health disorders, and to ensure that employees avoid stereotypes and inappropriate comments about mental health issues can discourage such allegations. It is the first line of defense to prevent
- don’t ask for a diagnosisAlthough employees may volunteer their conditions, employers and their representatives are required to disclose any conditions unrelated to their accommodation/vacation needs, including medical certificates used by employers. , do not seek diagnosis or details.
- Document requestIf the employee’s disability or need for accommodation is not apparent or known to the employer, the employer may request a certificate from the health care provider demonstrating that accommodation is required. . Employers can ask for confirmation that an employee has a disability (rather than a diagnosis). This includes, in California, any mental or psychological disorder or condition that limits major life activities (including work) or any other mental or psychological disorder or condition. Requiring special education or related services. Employers should consider how restrictions impair an employee’s ability to perform essential duties of the job, whether these restrictions are temporary or permanent, and, if temporary, when they are expected to end. You can ask for an explanation about [Note: If the requested accommodation is minor, the EEOC recommends making the accommodation without requiring documentation.]
- participate in an interactive processOnce an employer recognizes the need for an accommodation, it has a duty to engage in a dialogue process to determine whether it can provide a reasonable accommodation. Employers should have someone experienced in this process meet with the employee and, with the employee’s help, determine how work-related restrictions and reasonable accommodations can be mitigated and potential accommodations should be identified and the effectiveness of those possible accommodations evaluated. Employers should document the interaction process, even if it is just a meeting with employees to let them know that the requested accommodation will be provided.
- Evaluation of reasonable accommodationAn employer’s obligation to provide reasonable accommodation for mental disabilities is the same as for physical disabilities. Care must be taken when enabling employees to perform the essential duties of their job (employees are entitled) and not create an undue burden on employers. Employers may therefore change non-essential work assignments, change employees’ work schedules (e.g. to accommodate mental health treatment), or allow employees to work from home. you may need to. A disabled person may request another supervisor as an accommodation. The law has not fully resolved this issue, so if an employer is unwilling to do so, they should consult an experienced attorney. Other potential considerations may be considered, such as providing / guidance.
- A transfer or vacation can be a reasonable accommodationIf an employee cannot reasonably accommodate their position, employers should consider whether the employee is available for other open positions, including open positions elsewhere. In that case, the employer must participate in the dialogue process with the employee. A leave of absence may be a reasonable accommodation if the employee has no other reasonable accommodation to continue working. Employers are not required to provide indefinite leave to accommodate a disability. However, the law regarding what is considered “indefinite” leave can be very gray, so employers should consult experienced attorneys if an employee seeks continuous or extended leave. need to do it.
- Assessment of undue burdenAs with accommodations for the physically disabled, there is no need to provide accommodations for the mentally handicapped if they create an undue burden on the employer. Employers should consider the nature and cost of the accommodation requested, the employer’s ability to pay for the accommodation, the type of work performed at the facility, the impact on the operation of the facility, and the number of other accommodations. So the same factors apply. Number/type/location of employer facilities, administrative and financial relationships between facilities.
- Consider interactions with other lawsIf an employee takes time off or reduces work hours as part of an accommodation arrangement, employers should consider whether to designate that time off as FMLA/CFRA job protection leave. If an employee indicates that a mental illness is work-related, they must follow workers’ compensation reporting procedures. If accommodations affect employee employment benefits or salaries, those issues should be discussed as part of an interactive process. If telecommuting is part of the accommodation, employers must ensure compliance with laws requiring reimbursement of work-related expenses and time reporting requirements for non-exempt employees.
- Dealing with workplace issues caused by accommodationsColleagues question why employees are being offered what they are not (for example, employees are allowed to work from home when their employer mandates them to return to the office). (e.g., have a disability), an employer should not disclose that an employee has or has a disability. A doctor’s note authorizing you to do so. Employers should respond that it is a confidential personnel matter that they are not authorized to discuss with their employees. If a supervisor or manager is concerned that a telecommuting employee is not working, employers may ask such employees to provide more or different documentation about their work. and that the same standards are followed. As someone who works in an office (unless coordinated as part of the accommodation). If accommodations do not appear to be working for the employee or employer, the employer should restart the dialogue process to discuss corrections or other potential accommodations.
- follow upHuman Resources should follow up with employees with disabilities from time to time to ensure accommodations are being made and to determine if additional steps are required.
- Supervisor and manager trainingSupervisors and managers are trained on how to deal with potential mental health disorders, when to contact HR, what to say when dealing with mental health issues, and most importantly You need to be able to understand what not to say.