COVID-19 Policy Collaborative

The Office of Disability Employment Policy’s (ODEP) State Exchange on Employment and Disability (SEED) initiative, working in collaboration with the Council of State Governments, the National Governors Association and the US Conference of Mayors, launched the COVID-19 Policy Collaborative to address the priorities of state and local legislators and policymakers related to COVID-19’s impact on the employment of people with disabilities.

Telework Policy Brief

On February 23, 2021, the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) issued a policy brief that provides a framework for adopting an integrated telework policy applicable to all employees, including employees with disabilities.

Policy Briefs and Resources Regarding Employment of Youth with Disabilities in a Recovering Economy

On March 4, 2021, the Department of Labor’s (DOL) Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) released a policy brief discussing lessons from the Great Recession for supporting youth with disabilities as they transition to employment in order to inform state policymakers and program administrators. On April 10, 2021, ODEP launched a website that scans state efforts in this area in order to share lessons for addressing common challenges.

Accessible Remote Technology Resources

In March 2021, ODEP's (ODEP) Partnership on Employment and Accessible Technology (PEAT) technical assistance center published new resources for businesses as they adjust to the pandemic. They focused on inclusive telework policies and new accessible remote technologies to meet major shifts toward employee telework.

Listening Session on Mental and Physical Health

On March 11, 2021, the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) co-facilitated a virtual listening session on protecting workers’ mental and physical health, as part of the Women’s Bureau’s Virtual Stakeholder Listening Session Making Work Work. Attendees discussed strategies to support workers during the pandemic and tools needed to support return to work efforts. ODEP provided resources on reducing stigma associated with mental health.

Webinar on Mental Health and Wellness

On March 11, 2021, the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) and its employer technical assistance center, the Employer Assistance Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN), hosted a webinar on mental health and wellness in the workplace, to share strategies on supporting employee mental health and establishing mentally healthy workplaces. The National Industry Liaison Group, a consortium of federal contractors and subcontractors striving to achieve equal opportunities in the workplace participated in the webinar.

Learning Guide on Mental Health and Wellness

On March 11, 2021, the Office of Disability Employment Policy’s (ODEP) employer technical assistance center, the Employer Assistance Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN), issued a learning guide on mental health and wellness in the workplace that provides guidance and strategies on creating mentally healthy workplaces.

National Online Dialogue on Equity

From April 12 through May 3, 2021, the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), in collaboration with the Office of Federal Contractor Compliance Programs (OFCCP) and the Women’s Bureau, sponsored a national online dialogue entitled, “Advancing Racial and Social Equity in Employment for People with Disabilities.” The dialogue addressed the recent Executive Order on racial equity (EO 13985) by soliciting ideas for ensuring that Department of Labor policies and programs equitably and effectively serve underserved communities.

Supporting Gainful Employment for People with Co-Occurring Substance Use Disorder and Mental Health Conditions

In April 2021, in partnership with the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) created an interagency action plan for increasing gainful employment for people with co-occurring substance use disorder and mental health conditions through greater use by service providers of NIOSH’s Workplace Supported Recovery model and other proven models.

Maintaining Gainful Employment through Timely Health Care and Services

As of April 30, 2021, the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP)’s Retaining Employment and Talent after Injury/Illness Network (RETAIN) Demonstration Program pilots has supported more than1,000 workers across 8 states with stay-at-work and return-to-work (SAW/RTW) early interventions to maintain gainful employment. States partner with health care and workforce systems, health insurers, employers and other key stakeholders to provide coordinated services to individuals who risk job loss due to injury, including workers with post-COVID-19 complications. ODEP and the Employment and Training Administration (ETA) provided over $25 million in grants to eight states (California, Connecticut, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Ohio, Vermont and Washington) to pilot early interventions and service coordination to support ill or injured workers’ continued employment.

Supporting Gainful Employment for People with Mental Health Conditions

In April 2021, the Advancing State Policy Integration for Recovery and Employment (ASPIRE) initiative implemented by the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) selected seven states (Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Virginia, Wisconsin) to receive technical assistance in aligning policy, program and funding across state systems (including Medicaid, Mental Health, Vocational Rehabilitation and Workforce) to increase competitive integrated employment for individuals with mental health conditions. Lessons from ASPIRE will inform other states, federal agencies and service providers in adopting proven interventions to increase gainful employment for this underserved population.

Supporting Workplace Accommodations

As of April 30, 2021, the Office of Disability Employment Policy’s (ODEP) Job Accommodation Network (JAN) provided individual consultations with more than 10,000 employers, disability service providers, people with disabilities and the general public, conducted more than 30 training sessions, and released publications on topics including job accommodations, stay at work/return to work, self-employment and entrepreneurship and the Americans with Disabilities Act, often in the context of COVID-19.

Inclusive Jobs in Clean Energy

In response to the recent Executive Order on the climate crisis (EO 14007), the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) developed new partnerships with the Departments of Energy (DOE), Transportation (DOT) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to promote inclusive clean energy jobs.

Maintaining Gainful Employment through Timely Healthcare and Services

On April 28, 2021, the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) and Employment and Training Administration (ETA), in partnership with the Social Security Administration (SSA), provided approximately $103 million in additional grant funding to five states participating in the Retaining Employment and Talent after Injury/Illness Network (RETAIN) Demonstration Program. This funding will allow the five states to expand health and employment early interventions to restore gainful employment of ill or injured workers, including those affected by COVID-19 and those from underserved communities, which states developed in the first phase of RETAIN. This should enable states to help thousands of ill or injured workers stay at or quickly return to work. Doing so will help not only these workers and their families, but also businesses and communities, and RETAIN projects will provide lessons that can be adopted across the US and improve federal policy.

Inclusive Workplaces and COVID-19 Recovery Webinar

On April 30, 2021, the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) hosted a webinar on ensuring safe, healthy and inclusive workplaces during the COVID-19 recovery, including representatives from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), to share guidance, policies and practices for addressing workplace health and safety regarding COVID-19.