PART II. Examples of Accommodation
In Part II, I’ll share some examples of accommodation.
F. Accommodating in the workplace
In section F, I’ll share some examples of how the duty to accommodate applies in the workplace. We’ll cover:
Types of barriers, the information an employer is entitled to know, recognizing bona fide job requirements and essential duties of the job, and I’ll give you some options for accommodating in the workplace.
Physical barriers include things like providing steps but no ramps or elevators. Information and communication barriers can make it hard for people to receive or give information, such as using unclear language or print that’s too small. And attitude can be the biggest barrier. “Ableism” is a tendency to see people with disabilities as less worthy, underestimating their potential, or excluding them from decisions that affect them.
Even supportive employers may have workplace barriers, with for example, their buildings, policies and procedures, individual attitudes and workplace culture or with job requirements.
Employees, employers and unions need to work together to make sure that the appropriate accommodation is considered in hiring, training, promotions and performance evaluations, in work benefits and conditions, and when scheduling and disciplining employees.
Job requirements sometimes create barriers for people who identify with a Code ground. When this happens, the employer must show that the rule is a “bona fide occupational requirement.”
What's a BFOR?
Sometimes employers ask for requirements that aren’t necessary for the job.
Written tests for jobs that don’t require writing may screen out people who speak English or French as a second language. Psychological tests may favour one group over others.
Unless a physical demand is an essential job duty, it shouldn’t be in a job description or used to evaluate applicants. For example, a job description for a cashier should not say “heavy lifting required” unless it is actually a significant part of the job duties.
A person’s age appears on a driver’s licence. It may also record restrictions related to disability.
A job description should clearly say if driving is essential to the job. Only ask to see the drivers licence after making a conditional offer of employment. If a job description requires a certain level of fluency in English or any other language, it must be a bona fide requirement for the job. Requiring Canadian work experience may limit applications from recent immigrants, and could be discriminatory because of race, place of origin or ethnic origin.
Assessing skills and prior experience shouldn’t be limited to contacting a Canadian reference or insisting on Canadian experience. Give all relevant experience and references equal consideration.
Inflated job requirements, like requiring a university degree when a high school diploma will do, may also cause unnecessary barriers for some groups protected by the Code.
The Code guarantees equal treatment in employment to everyone who can perform the essential duties of a job. No one can be judged unable to perform those duties until the employer makes efforts to accommodate that person up to the point of undue hardship. Accommodating a person within their normal job is the first goal.
Start by separating the essential from the non-essential duties of the job. Non-essential tasks may need to be re-assigned to another person.
Assess the employee’s ability to perform the essential duties.
If the employee can’t perform the essential duties or requirements of a job, the employer must consider any accommodation, to the point of undue hardship, that allows the employee to do these essential duties.
Accommodation in the workplace
Let’s try this scenario: Kali works at the photocopy shop counter taking customers’ orders and helping them use computers and the photocopier. She also restocks the paper in the photocopiers.
Kali hurt her back and her doctor says she can’t lift anything over 10 pounds or stand for more than 20 minutes. Kali asks the employer to accommodate her with a chair so she can sit at the counter and by asking another employee to restock the printing supplies.
Is serving customers at the counter an essential part of the job?
The employer can accommodate the request for a chair and can re-assign any lifting over 10 pounds to another employee. In exchange, the employer might assign her some new non-essential duties within her accommodation needs. The employer can then assess the employee to make sure she can still perform the essential duties of her job, which are serving clients and helping them with printing technology.
Most common grounds
People may need accommodation for different reasons. Under the Code, the duty to accommodate applies to all grounds, but requests are most commonly based on the grounds of disability, creed, family status, gender-related needs such as pregnancy and breastfeeding, gender identity and gender expression.
Types of accommodation
These needs may be accommodated through modified workspaces, adjusted work standards, flexible work schedules, adjusted dress codes and break times, and modified changing facilities, among other solutions that ensure full and equal participation and respect for individual dignity and needs.
G. Accommodating in services and housing
Section G is on accommodating in services and in housing. It covers how accommodating benefits everyone, accessible buildings and spaces, and provides examples of accommodating in services and in housing.
Accommodating benefits everyone.
Accommodating benefits everyone. Accommodating opens doors to more customers and better customer service. Accommodating means that everyone has the same access to education, health care and social services.
Ensuring access and creating “barrier-free” environments can mean making changes to buildings, facilities or service schedules. It can also mean changing policies or practices and program designs or requirements.
We must all be able to enter and leave buildings and spaces.
Everyone benefits from accessible buildings. Ramps, elevators and wider doors accommodate wheelchairs, walkers and strollers. Public washrooms and recreation facilities with change tables and family change rooms mean that young families are included.
Accessible buildings and spaces
There are many options for providing equal services. By keeping everyone’s needs in mind, service providers can design programs, requirements and approaches that include all their customers.
For example, “next stop” announcements on buses let people with reduced vision know when it is their stop. But this also helps tourists and others who do not know the route.
Examples of accommodating
Here are some examples of accommodating in services and in housing.
Accommodating in education
When accommodating in education, offer schedules with day-time or evening classes, or degrees with distance education or part-time options, to allow students with care-giving or disability-related needs to take part.
Accommodation may also require providing leaves of absence or offering different ways for students to do exams or assignments.
Dress codes should be flexible for religious beliefs and learning materials and methods should be accessible to everyone, including people with disabilities.
Accommodating in housing
The duty to accommodate applies to people or organizations that own, run or manage housing.
This could be a home or condo owner acting as a landlord where they are renting a separate unit that doesn’t involve sharing a bathroom or kitchen with the owners.
It may be a property management company, or a social service agency or government agency that provides or manages housing. These may also be liable if their representatives do not meet their responsibilities under the duty to accommodate.
Accommodating tenant’s needs
Like employers, housing providers must accommodate unless doing so causes undue hardship.
While accommodation needs can be different for each tenant, meeting those needs doesn’t have to be expensive and they can benefit everyone.
To meet the duty to accommodate, housing providers may have to make physical changes to the building, or reconsider rules and regulations that cause barriers.
Install ramps or elevators, fire alarms and door-bells that ring and flash, to help people who are deaf, door handles that are easier to use, wider doorways for people who use wheelchairs, and accessible designated parking for people with disabilities.
Any expensive changes could be phased in if they would cause undue hardship.
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