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U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission



Frequently Asked Questions

6. What should I do if an applicant or employee asks for breaks, leave or other changes to a work situation because of his medical condition or his religious beliefs?

We refer to these types of requests as requests for "reasonable accommodation." In general, you are required to provide reasonable accommodations (changes to the way things are normally done at work) to applicants and employees who need them for medical or religious reasons.*

However:

  • You are not required to provide a disability accommodation that would require:
    • Incurring significant difficulty or expense;
    • Changing the fundamental duties of the job;
    • Lowering production or performance standards; or
    • Tolerating misconduct.
  • You are not required to provide a religious accommodation that would pose more than a minimal cost or burden.

To ensure that accommodation requests are handled properly and to prevent complaints:

  • Consider developing a process to handle accommodation requests that encourages discussion with employees about what is needed;
  • Ensure that managers know how to identify and respond to accommodation requests;
  • Determine whether you can provide temporary accommodation(s) if the agreed-upon accommodation cannot be provided immediately; and
  • If you cannot provide the employee's preferred accommodation, determine whether you can provide an alternative accommodation and explain why the preferred accommodation was not provided.

* Federal, state and local laws may require you to provide reasonable accommodations for other reasons. Federal, state and local government websites may have additional information about these laws.

See also:

Disability Accommodations Tips

Religious Accommodations Tips

Reasonable Accommodation Policy Tips

Manager Responsibilities - Reasonable Accommodation Tips

Leave Policy Tips