Human Resources

Disability accommodation

The University’s disability accommodation process is intended to be interactive and collaborative, relying on open communication and active participation between you and the University. The primary goal of this process is to help you to perform all of the essential functions of your current position, with or without accommodation.

Requesting accommodation

To request an accommodation, submit a completed Accommodation Request for Disability or Serious Medical Condition (PDF) form or otherwise inform your supervisor of your need for accommodation. If you prefer not to make your accommodation request to your supervisor, you can instead contact your HR consultant, Medical Center’s Leave Specialist, or the Disability Services Office.

Additionally, you may be asked to provide a Disability Accommodation Health Care Provider Statement (PDF) to help the University understand your condition, capacities, or limitations. This medical statement should be sent directly to your HR consultant, Medical Center’s Leave Specialist, or the Disability Services Office, not to your supervisor.

While use of the two UW forms is not required, these forms are designed to obtain sufficient information for the University to respond effectively to your request for accommodation. Not using the forms or providing incomplete information may delay the accommodation process due to the additional time needed to clarify your needs and related medical information.

If at any point you need assistance with either form, contact the Disability Services Office.

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Accommodation process

The University will respond to your accommodation request as quickly as possible. Response time may be affected by the complexity of the accommodation requested.

For minor workstation adjustments (such as desk height modifications or ergonomic enhancements), your supervisor may be able to implement requests without additional assistance beyond the department.

Requests requiring job duty modifications, environmental changes, equipment purchases, or other significant actions may necessitate the help of Human Resources, the Disability Services Office, or Risk Management (for job-related illnesses or injury).

Job analysis

The Disability Services Office may conduct a job analysis of your position. If an accommodation request is related to an on-the-job illness or injury, Risk Management may conduct the job analysis.

A job analysis assesses the position’s physical and/or cognitive requirements and identifies essential job functions. Essential functions are the fundamental job duties or requirements of a position that you must be able to perform, with or without accommodation. They cannot be removed from the position without changing its nature. Duties that are not essential may be modified, eliminated, replaced, or restructured as part of the accommodation process.

You may be asked to take the completed job analysis to your health-care provider to help your provider effectively assess whether you can perform your position’s essential job functions. If the University determines that an independent medical assessment is necessary, the University will pay for the examination.

Leave of absence

If you are unable to perform the essential functions of your job due to a medical condition, even with a workplace modification, the appropriate accommodation may be a leave of absence from work. A leave of absence may also be necessary while the University evaluates an accommodation request.

Visit disability leave for additional information about leave as an accommodation.

Alternative job search

If you have exhausted all leave options and the University determines that it is not possible to accommodate you in your current position, and you can work regularly and consistently in another position, the University will attempt to place you in an open UW position under the following conditions:

  • The position has a comparable or lower salary range or grade as your current position.
  • You meet the position’s minimum qualification and special skill requirements.
  • You are able to perform the position’s essential functions, with or without accommodation.
  • The University does not create new positions, displace other employees, or offer a promotion as a form of accommodation. The position will normally be of the same type (e.g., regular, hourly, or student).
Medical separation

If you have exhausted all leave options, your current position cannot be accommodated, and an alternative position is not possible (or was unsuccessful), your University employment will end. If you are medically separated from the University, you are eligible for reemployment assistance for up to two years following the date of separation. Assistance may include such services as:

  • Assessment of resume and qualifications
  • Development of job search strategies
  • Assistance with the interview techniques

Former employees who are able to work at least half time and are interested in reemployment assistance should contact the Disability Services Office.

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By law, your medical information must be kept confidentially and separately from your employee personnel file. UW Human Resources maintains medical files for staff employees.

Risk Management may also have medical records if the medical condition is work-related.

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Complaint resolution process

If you are not satisfied with the University’s response to your accommodation request, speak with your HR consultant or visit complaint resolution for guidance on the next steps available to you.

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Supervisor responsibilities

Receiving a request

Contact your HR consultant or the Disability Services Office if:

  • You have any questions about the accommodation being requested (such as regarding duration, scope, necessity, workplace impact, or the employee’s ability to perform the position’s essential functions even with accommodation)
  • An employee tells you about a health problem that could impact their ability to perform their job but does not make a specific accommodation request

You may not deny an individual’s request for reasonable accommodation without first consulting with the unit’s Human Resources Consultant, Medical Center’s Leave Specialist, or the Disabilities Services Office.

All responses to requests for accommodation must be documented, even if they are easily granted or for temporary or workspace modifications. Your HR consultant, Medical Center’s Leave Specialist, or the Disability Services Office can help you respond appropriately and document the accommodation process.

And though not all accommodations are approved, an accommodation request — and its possible alternatives — must be thoroughly evaluated prior to denial. Always speak with your HR consultant, Medical Center’s Leave Specialist, or the Disability Services Office prior to denying an accommodation request.

Medical information

If you receive documents containing medical information, immediately forward them on to your HR consultant, Medical Center’s Leave Specialist, or the Disability Services Office (whichever you are working with regarding this request). Do not keep medical records in departmental files.

You should not ask the employee for personal medical information or about the disability itself, your focus should be on the workplace modification being requested. The employee is not required to disclose medical information to their supervisor. However, if an employee does choose to disclose such information, advise them that you will keep the information confidential, and redirect them to the appropriate resource if they have questions about accommodation procedures or policies.

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Additional resources

Accommodation Request for Disability or Serious Medical Condition Disability Accommodation Health Care Provider Statement

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