Earlier this year, the AAMI Credentials Institute introduced a new certification for healthcare technology management (HTM) professionals. Known as the certified healthcare technology manager (CHTM) credential, it is intended for healthcare technology managers who help lead their facilities and oversee the activities of other employees.
HTM professionals wishing to earn the CHTM certification must have a diverse skill set rooted in clinical engineering or biomedical equipment, but they also must possess many other skills not associated with these familiar engineering principles. Managers typically oversee not only healthcare technology operations, but the personnel in their departments. For this reason, it is important to have a grasp of some of the essential laws governing employee rights.
This article will look at two legal areas that may be covered in the new CHTM certification exam: the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 and the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993. A competent HTM manager must be well-versed in the provisions of both laws.
The Americans with Disabilities Act
The ADA is a federal law modeled after the 1964 Civil Rights Act that establishes certain protections to individuals in the employment arena. According to the US Department of Justice ADA website, the law “ensures equal opportunity for persons with disabilities in employment, state and local government services, public accommodations, commercial facilities, and transportation.” So how can this act be applied to the HTM field?
First, most jobs require the employee to be able to complete the job’s “essential functions” and “marginal functions.” Essential job functions are core duties of a position, such as knowledge of electronic fundamentals. Reading schematics could be considered an essential job function for a HTM technician. These essential job functions are used to determine the rights of an employee with disabilities as stated in the ADA.
Marginal functions are job tasks that are not as important, but must be accomplished to successfully perform the job. If an applicant or employee with a disability applies for a position as a HTM technician but does not meet an essential function, the ADA requires that the essential function be demonstrated to be such. In essence, this law helps to make sure an employer is not discriminating by arbitrarily specifying unnecessary job functions.
The ADA also requires employers to provide “reasonable accommodations” to allow employees or applicants to meet job qualifications. However, the employer does not have to accommodate the employee if it would cause undue hardship, which is defined as significant expense or difficulty. The employer also does not have to comply if the accommodation would require removing an essential job function. This allowance could be the defining factor for whether an employer must make reasonable accommodations.
This might bring you to ask, exactly what is a disability? According to the ADA, “disability” refers to a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities of an individual. What does the ADA mean by “major life activities”? The ADA states that these activities include but are not limited to caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, and working.
As you can see, the ADA may be applied to many employees for many different reasons. Even if an employee meets the definition of a disability according to ADA, the law states that accommodations do not have to be made unless the employee requests them. But an employee who does ask for accommodations must be able to show that he or she actually has a disability. According to the ADA, the individual must have a record of impairment or appear to have an impairment. This language is very vague, and at this point an HTM manager may need to consult with the human resources department for further clarification.
The Family Medical Leave Act
As described by the US Department of Labor, the FMLA “entitles eligible employees of covered employers to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons with continuation of group health insurance coverage under the same terms and conditions as if the employee had not taken leave.”
This act provides an eligible employee with up to 12 weeks of leave in a 12-month period for reasons such as the birth of a child, the care of a newborn within 1 year of birth, or the care of an adoptive or foster child. This act also entitles the employee to care for his or her spouse, child, or parent who has a serious health condition. If the employee has a serious health condition that prevents the employee from performing the essential functions of the job, he or she is also covered for 12 weeks during a 12-month period.
The FMLA also has provisions to protect employees whose spouse, child, parent, or next of kin is an active military member. The law guarantees these employees up to 26 weeks of protected leave in a 12-month period to care for a service member with a serious injury or illness. This is referred to as military caregiver leave.
So what exactly is an eligible employee? The answer is any employee that has been employed at least 12 months and worked at least 1,250 hours during the 12-month period prior to the start of the FMLA leave. The employee must also work at a location that employs 50 or more people within a 20-week timeframe, either on-site or within a 75-mile radius. The 12-month employment stipulation does not require the employee to be employed for 12 consecutive months.
This information on the ADA and the FMLA is most likely sufficient for the CHTM exam. If more in-depth knowledge of these workplace provisions were needed, an experienced HR director would most likely be consulted.
I hope you find this information useful in your study process to become a certified HTM professional.
John Noblitt, MAEd, CBET, is the BMET program director at Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute, Hudson, NC. For more information, contact chief editor Jenny Lower at firstname.lastname@example.org.
1) It is February 2015, and your employee needs 5 weeks to take care of a sick child. In the last two weeks of December 2015 and the first 3 weeks of January 2016, the employee will need an additional 5 weeks to take care of the sick child. How many weeks is the employee entitled to under the FMLA?
a) Only 5 weeks
b) All 10 weeks
c) Only 9 weeks
d) Only 6 weeks
2) Your employee’s child is severely injured in a helicopter crash while serving in the Marines. How much time off is the employee entitled to under the FMLA?
a) 6 weeks
b) 12 weeks
c) 26 weeks
d) 52 weeks
3) You and two of your college roommates have had an ISO servicing x-ray equipment for 6 years. Your wife becomes extremely ill and needs a caretaker for 6 months. How many weeks of FMLA are you entitled to?
a) 12 weeks
b) 26 weeks
c) 52 weeks
d) 0 weeks
4) Your employee is involved in a serious car accident and is out of work for 9 weeks. Upon returning to work, the employee discovers he cannot complete an essential job requirement because of a new disability. The employee asks for an accommodation. This accommodation must be implemented within how may weeks?
a) 12 weeks
c) Does not need to be implemented
d) 26 weeks
Answers: 1—B, 2—C, 3—D, 4—C