In July, I shared about a Minnesota law passed this year that requires any new, large public building to be built with adult-size changing tables in restrooms. This law is a great step forward in making public space more accessible to people with disabilities.
The Minnesota legislature also passed a bill that includes earmarked dollars for a state-sponsored reasonable accommodation fund for employers. This fund allows Minnesota employers with up to 500 employees to request reimbursement for expenses, up to $30,000, related to providing reasonable accommodations for job applicants and employees with disabilities. At the core, the fund encourages the employment of people with disabilities by reducing any perceived or real financial barriers.
So often we hear that small to mid-size businesses cannot afford to hire people with disabilities because of the perceived cost to support them in the workplace. According to a report from the US Department of Labor, nearly half of workplace accommodations cost employers zero dollars. Another 43% of employers reported that accommodations were a one-time expense, with the median cost being $300.
I applaud the Minnesota legislature and Governor Tim Walz for coming together to support the employment of people with disabilities by removing barriers for employers, and hope that many, many Minnesota employers take advantage of the Employer Reasonable Accommodation Fund, especially as workers are returning to in-person offices. People with disabilities want and can work, and it is up to us as employers to ensure they are well supported in the workplace in order to succeed.
If you or your business are ready to be a part of creating a radically inclusive future, reach out to Lifeworks about hosting a disability listening session or disability inclusion training to take the first step. You can contact our team at email@example.com.