How does an employer supervise an employee with a disability?

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Sometimes employers worry that an employee with a disability will bring more personal and performance problems to the workplace than other workers. Some also feel uncomfortable talking with the employee about problems when they do occur.

In a 35-year study, the Dupont Corporation found that its employees with disabilities performed at the same level or better than non-disabled workers in terms of productivity, attendance, and loyalty. For more information consult Assisting the disabled: A good management decision.

The resource How to Hire and Supervise a Person with a Disability addresses some of the basic issues that come into play when supervising an employee with a disability. It discusses important employer responsibilities. For example, two important responsibilities as a supervisor are to match the right job with the right person and manage employees to their maximum performance. If an employee has a disability, these responsibilities are no different.

An accommodation should allow a person with a disability to perform at the same level as other workers, not compromise performance standards. For example, a computer monitor is a tool sighted workers use to retrieve files stored on a computer. A worker who is blind may use software that "reads" the screen text aloud, allowing him or her to use hearing in place of sight.

Employers should make performance standards clear to all workers and hold them to those standards. Employers are not required to hire or retain individuals who are not able to meet qualitative or quantitative standards, with or without accommodations.

Employers should deal with personal or performance problems of an employee with a disability just as he or she would any other employee. Workers with disabilities do not have exemptions from punctuality and attendance rules and other employment conditions.

Last update or review: January 22, 2013