Personal Assistant Services (PAS)
Effective January 3, 2018, amendment to regulations implementing Section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, require the provision of Personal Assistant Services or PAS to certain employees with targeted disabilities who request and require non-medical and non-work task personal assistance, unless doing so would impose an undue hardship on the agency. No employee should be discriminated against based on need for PAS.
What are PAS?
The final rule requires Federal agencies to provide "personal assistance services" (PAS) as a form of affirmative action. PAS provide employees with targeted disabilities "assistance with performing activities of daily living that an individual would typically perform if they did not have a disability, and that is not otherwise required as a reasonable accommodation. These services include, but not limited to assistance with removing and putting on clothing, eating, and using the restroom, pushing a wheelchair or assistance with getting into or out of a vehicle at the worksite. These examples are non-exhaustive, and serve to identify self-care type activities for which a PAS may be employed. PAS must be provided to employees while at the worksite and also under an agency's telework policy or telework as a reasonable accommodation.
Performing medical procedures (e.g. administering shots) or medical monitoring (e.g., monitoring blood pressure) are excluded from PAS, as are helping individuals with disabilities perform their specific job functions. This includes reviewing documents or answering calls; and differs from services that assist an individual to perform job-related tasks, such as sign language interpreters. Employees or applicants needing medically based reasonable accommodations (RA) to assist them in the workplace, or to apply for employment, may request reasonable accommodation through the Agency’s RA procedures.
PAS must be provided for job-related travel. The IHS will not necessarily know that PAS is required for travel simply because an employee regularly receives PAS while at the worksite or while teleworking.
It is also possible that an employee may require different PAS for travel than usually required. Since PAS for job-related travel are also considered a form of reasonable accommodation, requests for these services will be handled as requests for reasonable accommodation.
Undue hardship considers the nature, extent, and cost of an accommodation or of providing personal assistance services in relation to an agency's overall resources and the impact of the accommodation or of the requirement to provide personal assistance services on the operation of the agency's business.
Determination of undue hardship is always made on a case by case basis.
- Individual is an employee of IHS;
- An employee requires PAS because of “targeted disability.” A list can be found on OPM form 256 ;
- Provision of these services would, together with any reasonable accommodations required, enable an employee to perform the essential functions of a position the individual holds or desires; and
- Providing PAS would not impose an undue hardship on IHS. Employees do not need to determine if what they need is a reasonable accommodation or PAS; they should simply contact the servicing Area/HQ Reasonable Accommodation Coordinator (RAC) and explain their needs. The RAC will determine whether the request is for reasonable accommodation or PAS and proceed accordingly.
The IHS is prohibited from taking any adverse action against employees based on their need or perceived need for PAS.
As with reasonable accommodation, an employee may request PAS by informing a supervisor, the Reasonable Accommodations program office, or other appropriate management officials that he or she needs assistance with daily life activities because of a medical condition.
As stated, the individual does not need to mention Section 501 or use specific terms such as "PAS", "affirmative action", or “Reasonable Accommodation” to trigger the agency's obligation to consider the request. Typically, the targeted disability and need for PAS will be obvious, such as with missing limbs or paralysis, and medical support may not be required.
Where there is a requirement to clarify qualification of need and nature of PAS assistance, the reasonable accommodation interactive process should be engaged and a request for medically supporting information may be requested.
For more information on PAS or to make a request for reasonable accommodation, contact the Agency’s RA program office.
- PAS must be performed by a personal assistance service provider;
- IHS may use an existing employee who already performs similar service as part of their regular job or hire federal employees, independent contractors, or a combination of employees and contractors to perform personal assistance services;
- If hiring PAS, and it is deemed reasonable, IHS may give an employee’s PAS preference primary consideration to the extent permitted by law, provided PAS qualifications are met; and
- An employee who already uses a PAS provider in their personal non-work environment may request permission to bring his or her own PAS provider to work as a reasonable accommodation, if the employee does not request that the agency assume the cost of providing the services.