One of the concerns that employers often express when hiring people with disabilities is the perceived high cost of providing workplace accommodations. In fact, the typical cost of workplace accommodations provided to employees with disabilities is quite low. The Job Accommodation Network (JAN) recently updated its research on the costs and benefits of job accommodations. The employers in JAN’s study reported that a high percentage (56%) of accommodations cost absolutely nothing to make. Of those accommodations that did have a cost, the typical one-time expenditure by employers was only $600.
The Job Accommodation Network, a member of GettingHired.com’s Service Provider network, is a service provided by the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy. JAN's mission is to facilitate the employment and retention of workers with disabilities by providing employers, employment providers, people with disabilities, their family members and other interested parties with information on job accommodations, entrepreneurship, and related subjects.
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JAN’S ACCOMMODATION FACT SHEET SERIES
Workplace Accommodations: Low Cost, High Impact
Annually Updated Research Findings Address the Costs and Benefits of Job Accommodations
Recent amendments to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) refocused attention on workplace accommodations by broadening the definition of disability; more coverage means more employees will likely be entitled to workplace accommodations. This increased attention has some employers concerned about the costs of providing job accommodations. However, a study conducted by the Job Accommodation Network (JAN), a service of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), shows that workplace accommodations not only are low cost, but also positively impact the workplace in many ways.
The JAN study has been ongoing since 2004. JAN, in partnership with the University of Iowa’s Law, Health Policy, and Disability Center (LHPDC) interviewed 1,182 employers between January 2004 and December 2006 who contacted JAN. In addition, JAN, in partnership with the West Virginia University School of Applied Social Sciences (SASS) interviewed 366 employers between June 28, 2008, and July 31, 2009, who contacted JAN. Employers in the JAN study represented a range of industry sectors and sizes and contacted JAN for information about workplace accommodations, the ADA, or both. Approximately eight weeks after their initial contact, the employers were asked a series of questions about the situation they discussed with JAN and the quality of the services JAN provided.
The study results consistently showed that the benefits employers receive from making workplace accommodations far outweigh the low cost. Employers reported that providing accommodations resulted in such benefits as retaining valuable employees, improving productivity and morale, reducing workers compensation and training costs, and improving company diversity. These benefits were obtained with little investment. The employers in the study reported that a high percentage (56%) of accommodations cost absolutely nothing to make, while the rest typically cost only $600.
And to top off these positive results about the cost and benefits of workplace accommodation, the employers in the study also reported that JAN understood their needs and provided information that met their needs. In addition, 98% of employers stated that they would use JAN services again for assistance with workplace accommodations.
What is the bottom line? Workplace accommodations are low cost and high impact, and JAN can help employers make them, free of charge.
Finding #1: Employers want to provide accommodations so they can retain valued and qualified employees.
Of the employers who called JAN for accommodation information and solutions, most were doing so to retain or promote (82%) a current employee. On average (including those persons who had just been given a job offer or who were newly hired), the employees had been with the company about seven years, with an average wage of about $14 for those paid by the hour, or an average annual salary of about $48,200. In addition, the individuals tended to be fairly well-educated, with 43% having a college degree or higher.
Finding #2: Most employers report no cost or low cost for accommodating employees with disabilities.
Of the employers who gave cost information related to accommodations they had provided, 251 out of 447 (56%) said the accommodations needed by employees cost absolutely nothing. Another 164 (37%) experienced a one-time cost. Only 23 (5%) said the accommodation resulted in an ongoing, annual cost to the company and 9 (2%) said the accommodation required a combination of one-time and annual costs; however, too few of these employers provided cost data to report with accuracy. Of those accommodations that did have a cost, the typical one-time expenditure by employers was $600. When asked how much they paid for an accommodation beyond what they would have paid for an employee without a disability who was in the same position, employers typically answered around $320.
Finding #3: Employers report accommodations are effective.
Employers who implemented accommodations at the point they were interviewed were asked to rank the effectiveness of the accommodations on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being extremely effective. Of those responding, 74% reported the accommodations were either very effective or extremely effective.
Finding #4: Employers experience multiple direct and indirect benefits after making accommodations.
Employers who made accommodations for employees with disabilities reported multiple benefits as a result. The most frequently mentioned direct benefits were: (1) the accommodation allowed the company to retain a qualified employee, (2) the accommodation increased the worker’s productivity, and (3) the accommodation eliminated the costs of training a new employee.
The most widely mentioned indirect benefits employers received were: (1) the accommodation ultimately improved interactions with co-workers, (2) the accommodation increased overall company morale, and (3) the accommodation increased overall company productivity. The following table gives the percentage of employers who reported experiencing direct and indirect benefits as a result of having made an accommodation.
Direct Benefits %
Company retained a valued employee 88%
Increased the employee’s productivity 72%
Eliminated costs associated with training a new employee 59%
Increased the employee’s attendance 52%
Increased diversity of the company 43%
Saved worker’s compensation or other insurance costs 39%
Company hired a qualified person with a disability 16%
Company promoted an employee 11%
Improved interactions with co-workers 69%
Increased overall company morale 61%
Increased overall company productivity 57%
Improved interactions with customers 45%
Increased workplace safety 43%
Increased overall company attendance 37%
Increased profitability 33%
Increased customer base 18%
Finding #5: Employers find JAN helpful during the accommodation process.
Ninety-nine percent of employers found that JAN understood their needs. In addition, 91% of employers stated that the information JAN sent them met their needs. Overall 98% of employers stated they would use JAN again.
To cite: Job Accommodation Network (Original 2005, Updated 2007, Updated 2009). Workplace accommodations: Low cost, high impact. Retrieved (month) (day), (year), from http://www.jan.wvu.edu/media/LowCostHighImpact.doc
This document was developed by the Job Accommodation Network, funded by a contract agreement from the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Disability Employment Policy (DOL079RP20426). The opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the position or policy of the U.S. Department of Labor. Nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Department of Labor.
Mar 18 2010, 06:31 PM