Workplace Flexibility Toolkit: For Workers with Disabilities, and Beyond
October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), and this year’s theme, “A Strong Workforce is an Inclusive Workforce: What Can YOU Do?” celebrates the many and varied talents of America’s workers with disabilities. In celebration of NDEAM, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy Kathleen Martinez recently wrote a blog about the value of work and its intrinsic link to individual identity. In her post, she encourages employers to foster workplaces that accommodate people of all ability levels and people with disabilities to respond with a strong work ethic.
In his NDEAM Proclamation, President Barack Obama put his support behind the government’s push to keep people with disabilities working. He said that all Americans have the right to a “level playing field” when it comes to making a living and building a life for themselves and their families.
With those goals in mind, and to help government agencies, private companies and individuals looking for ways to improve the workplace for employees of all abilities, the Department of Labor (DOL) recently unveiled a new virtual toolkit on workplace flexibility. The toolkit was created through a partnership between the department’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) and DOL’s Women’s Bureau, and includes more than 170 resources to help employers come up with the best working plan for employees that need flexibility regarding time, location or manner of work.
The toolkit includes:
- Fact sheets;
- Tips for employers and workers;
- Relevant articles and case studies; and
- Links to helpful resources & websites.
The toolkit is also searchable, providing visitors with the specific information that they need in an easy to use manner. Information is categorized by audience (e.g. employee, employer, policymaker), types of workplace flexibility (e.g. time, task, place) and frequently asked questions. The toolkit includes a variety of ways to improve workplace flexibility that are easy to understand and realistic to implement, and will be continuously updated as new information becomes available.
It makes sense that the federal government would take the lead on this initiative, since today it employs more people with disabilities than at any time in the past two decades. Those that back the initiative, like Secretary Martinez, believe that it has the potential to provide mutual benefits to employers and workers, citing benefits to employers like increased retention and productivity, and an overall stronger economic climate.
The idea of workplace flexibility applies not only to workers with disabilities, but also to anyone with life situations that make traditional work pursuits more challenging, such as parents of young children, older workers, single parents and family caregivers. Anyone that feels they cannot work up to his or her full potential because of a personal situation is encouraged to visit the site and make use of the information.