Workplace Accommodation Services
Supporting Services for UNI Faculty and Staff
Update Regarding COVID-19 Accommodations
On May 10, 2021 the university returned to its pre-COVID-19 process for evaluating workplace accommodation requests related to an employee's disability or health condition. Employees who were previously approved for COVID-19 related accommodations through HRS will not have those temporary accommodations automatically approved. Instead, the interactive process will need to be initiated by completing the forms below:
Human Resource Services (HRS) is committed to ensuring faculty, staff, prospective employees, and visitors with disabilities have equal access at the University of Northern Iowa. Our goal is to create an inclusive working environment for all UNI employees. When a disability or health condition causes difficulty performing essential job functions, employees may request reasonable workplace accommodations.
Reasonable Accommodations for Employees
- An accommodation is any change in the work environment or in the way things are customarily done that enables an individual with a disability to enjoy equal employment opportunities.
- HRS coordinates the workplace accommodations process to maintain consistency across the university.
- Whether or not an accommodation is reasonable will vary according to the position the employee holds, the way their disability or medical condition affects their ability to do their job, and the environment that they work in.
- An accommodation is not considered reasonable if it removes essential job functions, poses an undue hardship to the University, or creates a direct threat.
- Reasonable accommodations for employees are selected according to anticipated effectiveness with some consideration given to cost versus benefit.
- Employees with a disability or medical condition have the same performance and conduct standards as employees without a disability or accommodation.
- To be eligible for reasonable accommodation under the ADA, an employee must have an impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, or a record of such an impairment.
- Not all employees with disabilities or health conditions will require the same accommodation and some employees with disabilities may not require any workplace accommodation.
- Each accommodation request is evaluated on a case-by-case basis to determine whether the employee’s disability or health condition necessitates an accommodation to perform the essential functions of their position.
Request a Workplace Accommodation
- If an employee has a disability or health condition affecting their ability to perform their job, they may request a reasonable accommodation by informing their supervisor or the HRS Leave & Accommodations Coordinator of their need.
- Supervisors who receive accommodation requests should inform the Leave & Accommodations Coordinator in HRS to initiate the interactive process.
- Employees will be asked to provide documentation of their disability or health condition from their healthcare provider in order for HRS to determine if they have a qualifying condition (unless documentation is already on file in HRS).
- For those employees with obvious impairments, medical certification is not required to determine eligibility, however may be beneficial.
Once a request for accommodation has been initiated and recognized by the supervisor and HRS, the following steps will take place.
- The Leave & Accommodations Coordinator will gather information to understand what barriers the employee is experiencing and why.
- Options for reasonable accommodations will be explored by engaging in interactive communication with employee, supervisor, and possible outside resources.
- If necessary, a trial period may be considered to be sure the accommodation will be effective.
- Once a reasonable accommodation is identified and agreed upon, the employee and supervisor will be notified via email, memo, and/or letter.
- Employees and/or supervisors should communicate any issues with the accommodation after it has been implemented.
- If an accommodation is not available or reasonable, the employee will be notified in writing and alternative options may be discussed.
Please note: Employees are not required to accept an accommodation; however, if an employee needs an accommodation to perform the essential functions of their job and refuses to accept an effective accommodation, they may not be qualified to remain in the job.
- HRS maintains confidentiality of medical information and such records shall not be released except as required by law.
- An eligible employee's restrictions, limitations and recommended accommodations may be discussed with necessary supervisory staff and is only shared as a matter of business necessity to ensure the accommodation is implemented.
- In cases where disclosing the disability is necessary to implement the accommodation, the employee will be consulted regarding the limited information that may need to be provided to supervisory staff.
Reporting a Concern
If you feel your rights under the Rehabilitation Act, the ADA, and/or the ADAAA have been violated, you may consult with the Office of Compliance and Equity Management and/or utilize the procedures outlined in the Discrimination, Harassment, and Sexual Misconduct Policy. The Assistant to the President for Compliance and Equity Management is the designated ADA Compliance Officer.
Accommodations for Students
Educational accommodations for students at UNI are provided by Student Accessibility Services. For more information please visit https://sas.uni.edu.
Student employees who require a workplace accommodation should follow the same process as other UNI employees.
For more information regarding workplace accommodation services contact:
Melissa Ward, Leave & Accommodations Coordinator
firstname.lastname@example.org or 319-273-6164.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Call 24 hours a day: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
Frequently Asked Questions
- 1Q: What qualifies as a disability under the American’s with Disabilities Act (ADA)?
1A: According to the Federal law, an individual with a disability is anyone with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits or restricts conditions, manner or duration under which an average person can perform one or more major life activities.
- 2Q: What are essential job functions?
2A: Essential job functions are the duties an employee must be able to perform, with or without an accommodation. Employers determine which functions are essential and identify those in the written job description.
- 3Q: What should I do if I need to request a workplace accommodation due to disability?
3A: You should inform your supervisor and/or the Leave & Accommodations Coordinator of your need in order to initiate the interactive process. You will also be asked to provide documentation to support your request.
- 4Q: What are some examples of reasonable workplace accommodations?
4A: Work Environment: office arrangements, ramps, handrails, lighting, ergonomic furniture, light versus sound alarms, modified workstations, air purifiers, parking.
Schedules/ Procedures: flexible work hours, work days, lunch hours/breaks, part-time hours, additional training, modified approach to task completion, change in communication methods.
5Q: Who is responsible for expenses associated with a workplace accommodation?
5A: In most cases, the expense for workplace accommodations is the responsibility of the employee's department. If costs are an issue, the supervisor should contact the HRS Leave & Accommodations Coordinator to determine options that might be available.
- Accessibility Resources at UNI
- Student Accessibility Services
- Office of Compliance and Equity Management
- Telework Resources
- Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion
- Relay Iowa
- Single Occupancy Restrooms at UNI
- Disability Advisory and Advocacy Committee
- National Institute of Mental Health
- National Alliance on Mental Illness
Relevant University Policy