Question of the Week: COVID-19 and ADA Reasonable Accommodations – week 5

Question of the Week: COVID-19 and ADA Reasonable Accommodations – week 4
September 8, 2020
New California Law Expands CFRA
September 24, 2020


Question of the Week



An employee has brought a medical note stating they cannot wear a mask.  Now what?


Most employers require cloth face coverings to be in the workplace — period. Therefore, you would likely inform the employee that they will be provided with a leave of absence while you start the interactive process to better understand their limitation and accommodation options that may support you to revisit if they can return to work (Short Term Script 1). Then, use a medical questionnaire (Form ST-1) to understand the underlying work restrictions as to why they can’t wear a mask, e.g., perhaps they can wear a face shield or wear a face covering for a limited amount of time when entering the workplace and work in an office or conference room instead of a cubicle where they can take off the mask.  If you exhaust all personal protection equipment (PPE) options after medical clarification, the employer can consider a work from home accommodation (use Short Term Script 2 & Form ST-2), or you can support the employee with a leave of absence (use Short Term Script 3c & Form ST-3c). Bottom line: you can require face masks in the workplace and if the employee cannot wear the face mask, and if they are unable to do their full duties in a work from home environment, they would only be entitled to a personal leave of absence.

About the Shaw HR Consulting COVID-19 Disability Compliance Program

The program is being offered for free on the Shaw HRC website.

Program materials have been created to help employers manage accommodation requests during the COVID-19 pandemic related to disability — such as requests to work from home — at a time when organizations are asking employees to return to the workplace or requests for leave related to COVID-19.

The Shaw HR Consulting COVID-19 Disability Compliance Program includes:
  • General Guidelines
  • Video Training on the Materials
  • Sample Scripts
  • Template Letters and Forms
  • Flowchart
  • FAQ

The Program is designed to offer employers an ADA compliant framework to manage work from home requests during this unprecedented time.  As with all compliant programs, a consistent process is key to ensure your good faith efforts are documented.  Shaw is happy to provide its clients with this process, as we work together as an HR community to continue doing good work.  Click the button below or go to to download program materials.

All program materials should be considered samples and should not be acted on without legal advice. Organizations are encouraged to contact their legal counsel prior to relying on any materials in this program.

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