What are the responsibilities of the employer in accommodating a worker?

The responsibilities of the employer include:

  • to proactively “build conceptions of equality into workplace standards”;

  • to design workplace requirements and standards so that, from the outset, they do not discriminate;

  • to identify and remove any workplace discrimination and barriers found in its policies, practices, standards and procedure. Workplace standards, such as lifting requirements or work schedules that unintentionally distinguish among employees on a protected human rights ground (i.e., disability, gender, religion, etc.) may be struck down or modified.

  • to ensure that equal opportunity is provided to employees and potential employees to enjoy benefits, opportunities and privileges as all other employees;

  • to ensure that discrimination is not allowed on the part of both employer and co-workers;

  • to inform employees and applicants of their right to accommodation and its duty to accommodate policy and procedures;

  • to ensure all managers and supervisors are aware, understand and abide by their obligations to accommodate;

  • to demonstrate a willingness and commitment to accommodate;

  • to consult and seek information about their workers’ disability-related employment needs from workers, union representatives and medical and accommodation specialists;

  • to identify the need for medical information, assessment and accommodation if not possible by the worker themselves;

  • to review, follow-up and assess accommodation of workers on an on-going basis;

  • to be creative and flexible;

  • to maintain confidentiality and respect privacy and dignity of the workers who are being accommodated;

  • to address the issue with the worker and the Union;

  • to respect the collective agreement in terms of accommodation; and

  • to consult and work with the Union and the workers to eliminate discrimination and education on the duty to accommodate.

As well, employers have related responsibilities that will affect the success of accommodation initiatives, specifically:

  • the responsibility to provide a workplace free from harassment,

  • the return to work processes under labour codes, workers’ compensation, disability insurance and other related legislation; and

  • for employers falling under federal jurisdiction, the obligation to comply with the Employment Equity Act and Regulations, which includes the requirement to consult and collaborate with unions in order to achieve equality in the workplace.  

September 18, 2013