Employer versions of job accommodation tool help organizations think about worker needs

Popular IWH tool helps workers, managers consider support options specific to job demands

Published: December 5, 2023

Since the March 2023 launch of the Job Demands and Accommodation Planning Tool (JDAPT) by the Institute for Work & Health (IWH), many employers have expressed an interest in sharing the tool as a resource for employees who live with an episodic health condition.

Now, employers have two new versions of the JDAPT to share with managers, human resources personnel, disability managers, union representatives, and others. The two organizational versions, like the worker version released in the spring, are designed to help consider accommodation options that are specific to job demands.

The two new versions differ in that one is designed to help identify potential strategies and accommodations for a specific worker experiencing difficulties with their job demands due to a potential health condition.

The other version can be used to identify important job demands for a position and how those different job tasks might be made more flexible, supportive, and inclusive for workers. With the second version, users don’t need to have a specific worker in mind when answering questions.

All three versions guide users through a series of simple questions about the physical demands of a job, the mental or “thinking” tasks of the job, the job tasks related to working with others, and the working conditions of the job. All JDAPT versions are freely available, in English and French, with strategies that can be saved and downloaded by users. The tool does not collect any personal information or save a user’s responses to protect privacy.

The tool was developed by an IWH-led partnership project called Accommodating and Communicating about Episodic Disabilities (ACED). Episodic disabilities are long-term health conditions that are characterized by periods of good health interrupted by periods of poor health. These periods of illness and disability may vary in severity, length and predictability. Symptoms may also be invisible to others. Examples of episodic health conditions include depression, anxiety disorders, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, Crohn's, colitis, hepatitis C, chronic pain and some forms of cancer.

The JDAPT is different from other job accommodation tools out there because it focuses on work demands rather than health symptoms or medical diagnoses, says Dr. Monique Gignac, senior scientist and scientific director at IWH and lead of the ACED project.

The organizational versions of the JDAPT maintain that focus on the job tasks that may pose difficulty and can be made less challenging with some adjustments, Gignac adds. Our hope is with the JDAPT, support strategies can be identified and made available—whether or not a worker experiencing health difficulties discloses those difficulties.

Managers don’t even need to wait for workers to experience difficulties with job tasks before they put into place adjustments that can prevent challenges, she adds. We know that many employers want to be more proactive and strategize around ways to make jobs more inclusive and accessible. The JDAPT can help with that thinking. To access the JDAPT, go to: https://aced.iwh.on.ca/jdapt.