Poll: Employers Make Accommodations for Sick Workers

October 24, 2005 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Corporate officials are apparently meeting the needs of seriously ill workers who request special accommodations to continue in their jobs.

A news release from the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans said that its poll of benefit managers and human resource professionals found that half made the requested accommodations for seriously ill employees whenever those demands were made. The other half met those demands most of the time, according to the survey.

The announcement said that employers must consider the employee’s right to privacy, the concern of fellow workers, special accommodations for the ill employee and maintaining productivity.

Responding employers indicated they provide a variety of work schedule accommodations for an employee with a serious illness. Eighty four percent provide for reduced hours worked. Other accommodations include flexible schedules, additional breaks and telecommuting, according to the press release.

More than half said they provided change in timing or prioritization of work, change in type of work assigned within the same position, or a transfer to another mutually agreed upon position.

In addition, over half of the employers would extend schedule or work assignment accommodations to a spouse or partner who is a caregiver for a seriously ill employee. These employers indicated going beyond the leave requirements under Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) by allowing flexible hours, telecommuting, or a temporary shift in work assignments to the spouse or partner in order for them to care for the employee during the more difficult stages of treatment.

The study, Coping with Serious Illness in the Workplace: Working Women with Breast Cancer, is here .