We have an employee who is requesting leave as an accommodation for a disability. Do I have to grant this leave?

The purpose of the ADA’s reasonable accommodation rule is to require employers to change the way things are done so employee with disability can work. Leave as a reasonable accommodation is consistent with this purpose. This is to allow an employee to return to work following the leave period. An employer must consider providing unpaid leave to an employee with a disability as a reasonable accommodation if the employee i requires it, as long as it does not create an undue hardship. This leave does not have to be paid.

Well, what is an undue hardship under ADA? “Significant difficulty or expense incurred by a covered entity”. The government would look at the cost of the accommodation, the overall resources of the entity, the effect of expenses and resources, size of the business, type of operation and the impact of the accommodation on the ability of other employees to perform their duties.

Therefore, employers should look at each request on a case by case basis when making a decision to accommodate an employee.