Accommodation and Compliance Series: Personal Assistance Services (PAS) in the Workplace
The Job Accommodation Network (JAN) receives many questions regarding personal assistance services (PAS) from employees with disabilities and their employers. This has been a difficult issue for employees who rely on PAS because employers generally are not required to provide accommodations related to services for personal needs. Employees with disabilities therefore must try to obtain these services themselves. It can be difficult for them to hire someone to come into the office a few times a day to help with personal needs or to pay for someone to come in on a full-time basis. The end result has often been no employment or loss of employment.
Recognizing that the absence of PAS as an employment support can be a significant barrier to employment within the Federal workforce, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) determined that updated regulations “were needed to enhance the employment, retention, and promotion of qualified individuals with disabilities….” On January 3, 2017, the EEOC issued updated regulations for Section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Section 501 prohibits federal agencies from discriminating against job applicants and employees based on disability and requires agencies to engage in affirmative action for individuals with disabilities. One of the provisions of the updated Section 501 regulations requires federal agencies to provide PAS to certain employees with disabilities. The following questions and answers discuss this requirement along with general information about PAS in both the public and private sectors.