The Reasonable Employer (RE) Process

The Reasonable Employer (RE) Process is initiated when you have been out of work due to a medical condition or on-the job injury/illness and has exhausted all applicable leaves. Human Resources will work with a number of campus professionals when determining whether an employee can and should be returned to his/her position. 

Questions should be directed to the Reasonable Employer Chairperson at 303-492-6475.

Questions should be directed to the Reasonable Employer Chairperson at 303-492-6475.

Frequently Asked Questions

The Reasonable Employer Process (RE) is a formal process that comprehensively evaluates an employee’s ability to return to his/her position and perform essential job functions following an on-the-job or non-job related mental or physical illness or injury.

The goal of the RE Process is to return the employee to his/her job, whenever possible. Returning the employee to his/her job may involve offering the employee a workplace modification or reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The following two situations prompt the RE Process:

  1. An employee has been released to return to work following an on-the-job or non-job related illness or injury and has been given permanent work restrictions;
    OR
  2. An employee is out of work due to his/her on-the-job or non-job related illness or injury and is about to exhaust all job protected leave and needs a workplace modification or reasonable accommodation in order to be able to return to work at the University. (For classified employees, job protected leave includes sick, annual, and Family Medical Leave (FML), and where applicable, On-the-Job Injury (OJI) leave, Make Whole and Short-term Disability (STD) leave. For university staff (US) job protected leave includes OJI and FML.)

The success of the RE Process is dependent upon campus departments contacting the RE Process Coordinator as soon as they become aware that one of their employees has been released to return to work with permanent restrictions or is likely to exhaust all of their available leave before being able to return to work. Campus departments are expected to:

  1. Monitor their employees’ leave usage closely,
  2. Communicate frequently with employees that are out of work in order to stay informed of their status and plans to return to work, and
  3. Obtain updated FML Medical Certificates, Fitness to Return-to-Work forms, and/or worker’s compensation disposition RE Processorts from the employee, as appropriate.

In addition, campus departments should review their employees’ position description questionnaires (PDQs)/job descriptions on annual basis to ensure they are up to date and that they accurately reflect essential job functions, as this information is useful in determining whether an employee can be returned to their position. Because each case is different, once the RE Process is initiated by the department, the RE Process Coordinator will inform the department of any additional responsibilities they may need to comply with in order to successfully complete the RE Process.

  • Employees are responsible for communicating frequently with their departments about the status of their illness/injury and their plans to return to work
  • Employees are also responsible for providing completed FML medical certification forms, Fitness to Return to Work forms, and worker’s compensation disposition RE Process to their departments in a timely manner
  • Once the RE Process process has been initiated, employees may be asked to provide an updated resume or information about any occupational skills/experience they have to the appropriate consultant from Recruitment/Position & Compensation Management.  This consultant will use this information to assess any vacant alternate positions for which the employee may be qualified.

  • The employee
  • The employee’s department (usually the employee’s supervisory upline and department HR/payroll RE Process Chairperson)
  • An Employee Relations consultant / RE Chairperson
  • University Counsel
  • University Risk Management (if the employee’s illness/injury was suffered on-the-job)
  • The ADA Coordinator
  • Recruitment/Position & Compensation Management
  • Employee Relations 

An employee released to return to work with permanent restrictions may be granted a workplace modification or reasonable accommodation to assist in performing essential job functions. If restoration to the same position either with or without a workplace modification/reasonable accommodation is not possible due to the extent of the employee’s work restrictions, effort will be made to place the employee in a vacant position either in his/her department, if available, or elsewhere on campus. The employee will be considered for those vacant positions for which he/she is qualified, with or without a workplace modification/reasonable accommodation. If restoration to the same position is not possible, and no vacant alternate position for which the employee is qualified exists or a temporary workplace modification or reasonable accommodation is exhausted, the employee may be separated from employment with the university. Classified staff may not be separated until they exhaust all applicable forms of job protected leave. University Staff may be separated once OJI and FML are exhausted. An employee separated for exhaustion of leave may be eligible for long term disability or PERA disability programs.

Questions should be directed to the Reasonable Employer Process Coordinator in Human Resources at 303-492-6475.

Workplace Modification – A physical or environmental workplace adjustment (for example, a workspace or vehicle adjustment or communication technology device) that enables an employee job. Workplace modifications may be granted to an employee irrespective of whether they are a qualified individual with a disability under the ADA.

Reasonable Accommodation - Any modification or adjustment to a job or the work environment that will enable a qualified applicant or employee with a disability under the ADA to participate in the application process or to perform essential job functions (for example, a workplace modification or the granting of a finite amount of additional job protected leave).

Essential Job Functions – Those duties of a job that the employee must able to perform either with or without reasonable accommodation. Non-essential job functions are those that could be redesigned or reassigned to other employees, if necessary.

Forms & Tools