There are a variety of questions on "how do I deal with a disability/health issue in the workplace?"

Right now, we don't have a tag for them (or, at least, one which is being used). I want to make a tag for these sorts of questions but I am unsure what to call it. Disability strikes me as possible but not all of them are disabilities. Personal health or something along those lines might work but it may not really be obvious to someone who is creating a question to tag it as that.

The only tag I found which is close is sickness.

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    I think we need to make a clear distinction between chronic conditions and short-term illnesses ("I need a 2 hour lunch break every day to visit my doctor across the street" vs "I have the flu this week"). – yoozer8 Dec 30 '12 at 15:45
  • Either way - EEO would cover all of these, most likely. – OpenSorceress Jan 3 '13 at 8:16

Hrm... to me "health" and "disability" and "accomodations" are two different things.

Here's examples:

  • "health" - would be things for a healthy life, whether that's healing injuries, preventing them, or just doing what one sees as the right things by one's body. For example - "To maintain good health, I want to walk for 5 minutes out of every hour, and eat a healthy meal at lunch. Given my severely constrained office enviornment, how do I make that work?" This is not a disability or even an accomodation - it's following two generally accepted practices for good health. I'd say tag that "health".

  • "disability" - questions relating to a condition that is not part of the state of being generally human, that requires a consideration that a non-disabled human wouldn't need. This might require an accomodation, but might not. For example, "I have an unpercievable condition that requires no current accomodation - do I tell my company? who do I tell?" - I wouldn't list that as "accomodation" - it doesn't require one, but it may be related to a disability.

  • "accomodation" - for things that are actually related to allowing a disabled person to accomplish their stated job functions in a manner that accounts for the condition without posing an undue burden on the company. Could be in all sorts of contexts... my big concern here is that "accomodation" is standard terminology if you are familiar (at least) with the US legal system or common management practices. It's not necessarily something that every disabled person may be aware of, so I suspect that many question-askers may not find the tag... but that's not to say that the community can't help with this - particularly if we cross link it to something like "help" or "assistance"

That said, if we wanted a single grouping for "physical things that affect the job and how to deal with the needs of being human and/or disabled" - we could go with "physical", "wellness" or something like that?

If we don't have any tags on this, we definitely should have some!

Oh! One more counter question - do we need to also consider things like sick time and physically related emergencies? Not a disability, but a fact of life, although work policies here vary, there ought to be some sick time best practices...

  • As a minor point, people with diagnosed conditions for which accommodations are warranted are very likely to know the term, because they likely have completed an accommodation request at their work or school. Universities often have an Office of Learning Accommodations or Office of Disability Accommodations, and so on. It is likely unfamiliar to people who don't have a diagnosed disability (including those who should have such a diagnosis but haven't been to a doctor/know the possibilities) and have not had a coworker, employee, or student who needed accommodations. – jcmeloni Dec 28 '12 at 23:12
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    I do like Wellness, for a completely different kind of question, like how to stay, uh, well when you work in a basement office with no natural light. Or something like that. – jcmeloni Dec 28 '12 at 23:14
  • The other point to mention is that items in the health category still may require some form of accommodations. For instance, if you like to take afternoon walks, but you're required to be in the office during that time for meetings, then accommodations may need to be made to move the meetings or give you time to take the walks. Or in my case, I like to spend about 20 minutes stretching and doing back exercises during lunch, so I needed a quiet space to do this. I don't have a medical condition that requires this; I just want to stay young. ;) – jmort253 Dec 29 '12 at 1:32
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    My solution is to just use the hallways in the basement, since no one rarely goes down there. My point is that accommodations can be both legally required or just things that may make you more or less likely to take a position..... Maybe the solution is that all of these tags are valid? – jmort253 Dec 29 '12 at 1:34
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    For completeness, I'd suggest a 4th covering illness (missing a short period of work for an illness) – yoozer8 Dec 31 '12 at 4:20
  • @Jim I agree, I've seen a few questions about how to handle situations involving short-term sickness, like a common cold. Perhaps something like [sick] or [sick-days] – Rachel Dec 31 '12 at 13:49
  • IMO your main objection to accommodations can be handled with one or more synonyms, "disability" would be a good start to synonymize – Rarity Jan 2 '13 at 14:24
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    My main concern is the general point "accomodation" is a fix for a disability or other health-concern. I'm not convinced that every question related to disabilities or health concerns will necessarily involve accomodations. – bethlakshmi Jan 2 '13 at 17:45

Great question. I just had the same thought, as I was looking for duplicate questions or a sort of canonical entry.

My suggestion would be accommodations, as workplace accommodations for people with special needs (to use an extremely broad term, encompassing both medically certified disabilities as well as general accommodations that may or may not fall into a legally protected class) is really what we typically talk about here -- how to get accommodations, how to interact with colleagues who might question accommodations, and so on.

  • Is accommodations universally known to be how to describe this though? I agree now, but, may not have initially thought of it (obviously I didn't or I would have added it to my question)? I guess we could always just retag questions? – enderland Dec 28 '12 at 20:22
  • I like it! :) Great suggestion. – jmort253 Dec 28 '12 at 20:22
  • @enderland, my thought is we'd start by retagging, and if it becomes clear people are trying to use other related tags instead, then we can address that issue either by changing the name of the tag or creating a synonym. But for now, accomodations seems like the most widely applicable, IMHO. – jmort253 Dec 28 '12 at 20:23
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    @enderland In the US at least, I would say that yes, "accommodation" is a very familiar term to anyone in management or HR or education, and to anyone having a diagnosed condition which would benefit from accommodation. – jcmeloni Dec 28 '12 at 20:34
  • I've always considered "accommodations" to be a place to temporarily stay, like a hotel or someone else's house. Wikipedia defines it like this as well. I've never heard this word used in the way you're using it before - it seems strange to me. Perhaps we could think of a better word? I think Programmers.SE uses "health" :) – Rachel Dec 28 '12 at 20:50
  • I would encourage anyone who hasn't been involved in management or HR or education to search "ADA accommodations" or "workplace accommodations" or "education accommodations" or, specifically, "HR request for reasonable accommodation" to see that the term is very commonly used in this manner. – jcmeloni Dec 28 '12 at 21:28
  • @Rachel, how about "workplace-accommodations" or "health-accommodations"? – jmort253 Dec 29 '12 at 1:26
  • @jmort253 If "accomodations" is common terminology in the workplace, I'd use that, otherwise I'd use something like "health-accommodations" since it will come up in the dropdown anytime someone types "health" as a tag – Rachel Dec 29 '12 at 13:02
  • @Rachel, while that's the more common use of "accommodation" in general, in a workplace context how likely are we to be talking about lodging? Sure, it could come up in talking about relocation, but I hope we have a "relocation" tag for that. Whatever we do, a decent tag wiki will be essential. – Monica Cellio Dec 30 '12 at 2:34
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    Several people have talked about "accommodation" being understood in this way in the US, but what about elsewhere? – Monica Cellio Dec 30 '12 at 2:35
  • I went and tagged our first one as I think it's relevant; should we set up any synonyms (see bethlakshmi's answer) – Rarity Jan 2 '13 at 14:24

We probably need to have a "workplace health" tag as well - medical issues in the workplace as per the title can also relate to issues caused or agrivated by the workplace or work requriements.

Specific issues we have had to address on this in our office include RSI/OOS, various ergonmic issues around desk and workstation set ups, long haul flights and associated risks, overseas travel and associated (health) risks, back problems, headaches, eye strains as well as stress, depression and other mental health issues.

Questions around how to raise these as an issue with management or co-workers, push back if policies were putting people at risk and/or advice on minimising risk would fall into this category.

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    I would agree this is a different category from matters of accommodation, that does warrant its own tag. – jcmeloni Dec 28 '12 at 21:29

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