EEOC Says Telecommuting Could be ADA Accommodation

February 3, 2003 ( - The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today released a fact sheet for employers who are considering allowing a disabled individual to telecommute as an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accommodation.

The fact sheet, using a step-by-step approach, explains the ways that employers may allow an individual to work at home as a reasonable accommodation, including through existing company telecommuting programs. The full text of the document is available .

The ADA requires employers to provide “reasonable accommodations” to the physical and mental limitations created by a disability. Employers can utilize existing telework programs to meet this obligation. However, the employer may have to waive certain eligibility requirements, such as rules requiring employees to work for one year before applying to the program, or otherwise modify its telework program for someone with a disability who needs to work at home, the EEOC said.

After an employee requests telework, the employer and employee should discuss why the employee needs telework because of a disability, and whether all or some of the job tasks can be performed from the employee’s home. This step is referred to as the “interactive process” under the ADA.

Other considerations to explore during this process may include:

  • how to supervise an employee who works at home
  • whether there is a need for face-to-face interaction, or whether telephone, fax, and e-mail can suffice to ensure timely communication with other employees, outside colleagues, customers, or clients
  • whether the work requires immediate access to documents or other information located only in the workplace.

Not all persons with disabilities need – or want – to work at home. And not all jobs can be performed at home. But, allowing an employee to work at home may be a reasonable accommodation where the person’s disability prevents successfully performing the job on-site, the EEOC said.