What would be an ideal process for the accommodation of a worker in the workplace?

 

  1. A work-related issue that was not identified in when the employer proactively reviewed their workplace standards is raised by a worker, the union or the employer.
  2. The employer reviews the specific issue, looking at the questions to assess a BFOR and makes the changes possible without having to only accommodate the specific worker. . For example, a uniform policy can be changed that allows appropriate modifications to the uniform for religious reasons.
  3. If the employer is not able to resolve the matter with the systemic approach above, the worker provides the employer with as much information as possible about the required accommodation or the situation, or the employer raises the issue with the worker to see what accommodation is required.
  4. The Union is advised that an individual accommodation is necessary (if the worker agrees). Note that a worker is entitled to confidentiality and privacy with respect to disability and accommodation needs. Therefore, a worker should be informed that they should involve their union for support and assistance throughout the accommodation process, but if they choose not to, the employer should not reveal confidential information to the union.
  5. The worker, employer and Union representative meet to determine how best to proceed. For example is the accommodation obvious and can be implemented right away?; is medical information or a professional assessment of necessary?; If the collective agreement is involved, the Union and the employer should examine accommodation measures that result in no or minimal negative impact on the workers while still implementing reasonable accommodation for the worker who requires accommodation).
  6. The workplace (and co-workers if necessary) are prepared in advance for the implementation of the accommodation, including co-worker education. Again, privacy of the person being accommodated must be respected and therefore the employee who needs accommodation should be consulted on how to educate co-workers.
  7. Accommodation is implemented for a trial period.
  8. Accommodation is evaluated and appropriate adjustments made.
  9. Accommodation is finalized and formalized, as necessary, including, in cases of variable disabilities, the need for ongoing modification.

A key element to ensuring the success of an accommodation is the thorough and on-going involvement of the individual being accommodated. Especially in the area of disability, there is sometimes a tendency to decide what is best for the individual worker without their involvement, when, in fact, the individual in question knows their own situation better than anyone else. It is not helpful for the employer and Union to try to accommodate a worker between the two of them. Where decisions are made without the permission or knowledge of a worker, it can result in that worker feeling excluded from a process that will affect them on a daily basis. It might also prevent other members from stepping forward for fear they will begin a process over which they have no control.

There are no set rules when assessing accommodation measures. However, the objective is to have no negative impact (or as little as possible) on the worker requiring accommodation (e.g things such as salary, classification, re-location, etc.). The following is a guideline when considering how and what can be proposed as accommodation measures:

  • Examine whether the worker can perform his or her existing job as it is (i.e. same classification, location and wages).

  • If not, then examine whether he or she can perform his or her job with modifications, physical changes or “re-bundled” duties.

  • If not, then examine if he or she can perform another job in its existing form.

  • If not, then examine whether he or she can perform another job with modifications, physical changes or “re-bundled” duties. (This may involve re-training.)

When assessing accommodation measures, the employer should examine its entire organization. For example, if no accommodation is available within the workplace location/ department, then accommodations outside of the workplace location/department should be considered.  

September 18, 2013
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