Personal Assistance as a Reasonable Accommodation
Workplace Personal Assistance Services (PAS)
In the workplace, a Personal Assistance Service (PAS) is provided as a reasonable accommodation to enable an employee to perform the essential functions of a job. The employer's responsibility for providing reasonable accommodations begins when the employee reaches the job site and concludes when the workday ends. The Personal Attendant (PA) is only able to provide access to otherwise inaccessible aspects of the job or personal care.
PAS might include, but are not limited to assistance with the following tasks:
- filing or manipulating paper documents,
- retrieving work materials that are out of reach,
- providing travel assistance for an employee with a mobility disability,
- reading handwritten mail or hardcopy material to an employee with a visual disability, and/or
- assistance with personal care tasks, such as eating, putting on or removing a coat, and using the restroom.
EEOC amended its regulations implementing Section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 to require agencies to provide personal assistance services. Personal assistance services help individuals who, because of targeted disabilities, require assistance to perform basic activities of daily living (e.g., eating and using the restroom), but the services are not related to their job performance. For more information on these requirements for PAS, please see the EEOC fact sheet on PAS:
At DOT, PAS involving skilled care is provided on a case-by-case basis through the DRC to qualified employees who would otherwise be prevented from full participation in employment.
Workplace PA services are contracted through the DRC's nationwide contract. Services are provided on a scheduled basis
- A description of tasks is provided to the DRC and documented and agreed upon by employee and supervisor; including the frequency, duration and type of tasks to be performed by the PA. Very personal information, including explicit details related to personal care such as toileting and bathing, is handled in the most discreet manner and is not shared or discussed with the employee's supervisor. This information is provided to the contractor, so that we can ensure that the PA selected is capable and qualified to meet your specific needs.
- The employee must notify the DRC immediately if there are any changes needed to the services currently in place. The DRC will work with the employee and his or her supervisor/decision maker to address these changes. Changes in the type, manner, or frequency of service cannot be made without consultation with and approval of the DRC.
PAS on Travel (Services May be Provided Through DRC Contract or Invitational Travel)
An employee who travels for work and requires the services of a PA is not personally responsible for covering the additional costs incurred as a direct result of the travel. PA services can be provided through DRC's contracted services and/or by invitational travel (family member/friend).
- The DRC will work with the employee and manager to determine whether a PA will be provided en-route with the employee, or whether the service will be provided at the destination only. The DRC can explore both of these options even if the employee indicates a preference.
- The employee must provide the DRC with his or her travel itinerary including: general description of needed PA services, general schedule of services, and all specific information relating to the travel (i.e. departure and return information, hotel, work site location, etc)
Each trip taken by an employee is considered a unique event and must be carefully considered as to how best to provide the accommodation. For example, one trip might involve a single overnight stay, while another might involve being on travel for several weeks. DRC has the option of exploring whether the appropriate reasonable accommodation is to send the employee's PA and pay for the travel-related expenses or to arrange for on-site PAS at the travel destination via a pre-established government contract.
In some instances, an employee's own personal PA or a family member who typically assists the employee when at home can be used by an employee as his or her PA for official travel.
DRC does not provide the following services:
- General administrative services.
- On demand or full-time PAS to DOT employees.
- In some instances, it might be appropriate to hire a PA for on-demand services or as a full-time reasonable accommodation for an individual, rather than using the scheduled services that the DRC provides. If this solution is determined by the supervisor/decision maker to be effective for the employee, the DRC does not provide funding or hiring slots to support this effort.
- Salary to an individual serving as a PA for a DOT employee.
- PA serving as a driver.
DRC PAS services in the workplace and while on travel are governed by contracting and travel regulations. For more information on DRC's PAS, please refer to the DRC Services Handbook Section 4.8, Personal Assistance Services in the Workplace.