Career Seeker Question of the Month – August 2020

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“What should I do if I need to use a PCA at work?”


Personal Care Attendants are paid professionals who assist people with disabilities doing daily living activities such as eating, changing clothes, bathing, toileting and so on. Since many of these activities are performed at work, you have to request a PCA as a workplace accommodation.

Most employers won’t allow you to bring a stranger into the office. First, make a formal, written accommodation request. Then, work with your employer to find the best possible arrangement.

Employers are allowed to request a list of the specific tasks your PCA assists you with. This will let them identify areas of compromise. For example, if you work in a high-security environment and only use your PCA for toileting at a certain time of day, the employer might ask that you meet your PCA in a low-security restroom. However, if you need your PCA to be with you all day, the employer might request your PCA first pass a background check.

Alternatively, employers may require that your PCA wear a visitor badge and remain at your side all day. You also need to find a place for them. This might mean requesting your own office or an extra cubicle and desk so they can wait.

Since your PCA is your employee, you’ll need to ensure they are made aware of your accommodation agreement and what rules they need to follow. For example, if you deal with confidential information, your PCA shouldn’t be allowed to take pictures or make copies of documentation without your permission. You also shouldn’t seek your PCA’s input or allow your PCA to pipe in on company-related conversations. This could put your job at risk.

To sum up, make a formal request for a PCA as an accommodation and work with your employer to find an arrangement that works for you both. Be willing to be flexible, and make sure your PCA is aware of the rules they need to follow while in your workspace.

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