The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 or ADA (42 U.S.C. § 12101) is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination based on disability. ADA also requires covered employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities, and imposes accessibility requirements on public accommodations.
This checklist will guide you through the requirements and actions you need to perform when an ADA leave of absence is requested. (This leave does not cover standard pregnancy without complications or pregnancy-related disabilities.)
☐ Upon a request or identified need for leave, confirm the employee is not eligible for Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave because:
- ☐ The company is not covered by the FMLA;
- ☐ The employee has exhausted FMLA leave; or
- ☐ The employee does not meet the FMLA eligibility requirements.
☐ If the employer is covered under the FMLA but the employee is not eligible for FMLA leave, provide the employee (within five business days of the leave request) with the Notice of FMLA Eligibility and Rights & Responsibilities form indicating the reason the employee is not eligible.
☐ Employers may request verification of the individual’s disability and functional limitation(s) to determine if the individual has an ADA-covered disability that needs a reasonable accommodation (in this case, leave). Any requested medical information must be job related, consistent with business necessity, and confidentially maintained. This inquiry must be on an ADA-compliant form that the employee brings to their health care provider for review and completion, and returns to the employer generally within 10 business days:
- ☐ ADA Sample Medical Inquiry Form from the federal Job Accommodation Network (JAN); and
- ☐ The employee’s job description (to determine if the disability is directly related to the employee’s job and necessary for the employer’s business).
☐ Upon receipt of the medical inquiry request form confirming the ADA disability and the need for leave, provide the employee with the ADA leave letter containing:
- ☐ Benefit premium payment requirements or date when benefits end.
- ☐ Explanation of whether the leave will be paid and/or what paid leave is available (vacation, sick, or personal time) and the company’s policy regarding use of paid time during leave.
- ☐ Expected duration of leave.
- ☐ How and when the employee is expected to communicate during the leave period. (If the leave is intermittent, explain how the employee should inform their manager or supervisor that leave time is for the disability.)
- ☐ Whether or not a Fitness for Duty Certification will be required upon return.
☐ When benefits end, notify the insurance carrier and provide the appropriate COBRA notice to the employee.
☐ If employee is unable to return to work at the end of the leave, consider an additional extension of leave as a reasonable accommodation. Request an updated medical inquiry form from the employee’s treating health care provider to determine a revised return-to-work date.
☐ Communicate with the employee prior to their return to make any accommodations, request a release to work, if applicable, and create a plan to reintegrate the employee successfully back into daily work operations.
☐ Reinstate employee benefits upon return to work.