Region 3: Negotiating workplace accommodations: Perceptions of employees with disabilities, employers and rehabilitation service providers.

Providing reasonable workplace accommodations for employees with disabilities has been associated with enhanced job tenure, performance, and satisfaction. However, employers have struggled to effectively meet employee accommodation requests, and few studies have specifically examined how employees and employers negotiate requests. In this exploratory focus group study, we asked three key stakeholder groups – employers, employees with disabilities, and vocational rehabilitation service providers – “What helps and hinders requesting, negotiating, implementing, and evaluating workplace accommodations for employees with disabilities?” From our grounded theory analysis, we found that, although employers' and employees' perceptions about negotiating accommodations converged in several ways (e.g., employees presenting credible requests to employers to improve job performance), they differed sharply on their expectations of each other (e.g., costs of accommodations versus moral obligations to provide them). Such divergence requires that employers and employees with disabilities should become more aware of each other's perspectives, and more educated about how accommodation requests ought to be managed to improve job retention, reduce turnover costs, and decrease the likelihood of litigation. Based on findings of our small study, we offer a modest recommendation: educational interventions should be specifically tailored to each stakeholder group's roles according to major thematic areas of credibility, trust, and obligations.

Citation:  Gold, P.B., Oire, S., Fabian, E., & Wewiorski, N. (2012).  Negotiating workplace accommodations:  Perceptions of employees with disabilities, employers, and rehabilitation service providers.  Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, 37, 25-37.