Best Practices for Home-Based Workers with Disabilities

INTRODUCTION

The home-based teleworkers in our study told us that working at home has allowed them to overcome challenges and barriers they experience in traditional workplaces. We also found, however, that people with disabilities who work at home can experience challenges to negotiating, implementing and maintaining a successful home-based work arrangement. This section presents best practices and suggestions for persons with disabilities who are considering working at home, as well as for persons with disabilities who are already working at home.

Why Would You Want to Work at Home?

For some people with disabilities, working at home is a desirable alternative to working at an employer's workplace. For others, it is not an option. It is the only way they can work.

Some of the reasons for working at home cited by the participants in this study included:

Working from home enabled one participant in this study to have better access to attendant care:

"At home, I just pick up the phone whenever I need the help, and my orderlies are there."

[teleworker with disabilities]

Some participants worked at home because their employers' workplaces were not fully accessible. For example, some persons who owned their own assistive technology worked for employers who were unable or chose not to provide that assistive technology in the workplace.

For other study participants, Manitoba weather patterns presented challenges. Some told us that they worked at home because they risked falling and injuries when walking on slippery winter surfaces. Extreme temperatures intensified the pain related to one worker's disability. Working at home reduces his need to go out on cold and hot days.

Working from home enabled other participants to manage their health-related disabilities more effectively.

"Since I really started feeling the onset of [chronic condition] I get tired. And if I get tired, I can rest because I find I do get tired often, and I get tired very deeply, but I rebound very quickly."

[teleworker with disabilities]

Benefits and Costs of Home-Based Employment

Home-based work may help you be more productive in your work, maximize your contributions, or manage the effects of your disability more easily. Whatever the reason, you will want to weigh the costs and benefits of home-based work before you make your decisions.

Enhancing Flexibility

Working at home may allow you to arrange your work schedule to accommodate your needs. Working flexible hours can have a positive impact on work and family life. It can also enable you to work when you are most productive and rest when necessary.

Reducing Costs

You may find you save time and money by working at home.

"[I save money by] not having to prepare or buy lunches. I save on bus fare and dress clothes."

[teleworker with disabilities]

Managing Family Life

Telework may provide you with greater flexibility to manage your daily family demands, including the needs of aging parents or family members with disabilities:

"My [spouse] also has a disability-she has [chronic condition] very bad-and she has good days and bad days...When she has a bad day and she can't work...I can be home with her and help her with whatever she needs. So, from that point of view, working from home is very beneficial for me as well."

[teleworker with disabilities]

Increasing Productivity

Home-based work may help you to work more productively and feel better about your job.

"What I've really noticed when I'm working out of the main office is that I'm not nearly as productive. So working at home is a lot more productive than working in the main office. So that's the main benefit for me."

[teleworker with disabilities]

Tax Benefits for Home-Based Workers

Employees who do most of their work at home may claim income tax deductions for using a portion of their home as a workplace. To support your claim for workplace-in-the-home expenses, you must have your employer sign Canada Customs and Revenue Agency (CCRA) Form T2200 ("Declaration of Conditions of Employment"). For further information about tax deductions for working at home, see CCRA Interpretation Bulletin IT-352R2 and other tax information in the Resources section.

The Income Tax Act is very complex and each telework arrangement is unique. Consult your accountant and/or the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency for clarification about how this information applies to you and your organization.

SELF-ASSESSMENT: IS HOME-BASED WORK RIGHT FOR ME?

Developing and presenting a credible and convincing home-based work plan to an employer may be one of the most difficult challenges facing you. It can be particularly difficult if you suggest home-based work to an employer who has no previous experience with this flexible work arrangement.

To present a persuasive argument for home-based work, you will need to first determine if home-based work is right for you. These questions can be adapted to meet your individual needs.

Your responses to these questions may give you valuable information to assess your potential success in home-based work.

Other tips for success:

You can check your own suitability for home-based work against these guidelines. Your responses can also provide important insights you may want to use when negotiating with your employer.

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