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What is the Employer’s Duty to Accommodate?
The employer's legal Duty to Accommodate is one of the most important supports for employees looking to work or remain at work during concussion recovery.
Under Canadian law, employers must be flexible and take steps to support their workers who face obstacles to working, including illness or disability. To access this support you need a note from your family doctor indicating your medical need for job accommodations.
Duty to Accommodate and You
So what does the Duty to Accommodate mean for you? This means that your employer is required by law to do everything within reason to help you return to work or remain at work despite your concussion-related symptoms.
Your employer has a responsibility to support your success in the workplace during your recovery.
Limitations of Duty to Accommodate
It’s important to know that there are limits to the Duty to Accommodate. Your employer is required to provide a workable solution, not a “perfect” one; the goal is to make work “possible”, not necessarily “ideal”.
The employer is also entitled to a fair level of productivity. You need to be well enough to perform a reasonable amount of activity (usually at least a 4-hour shift with breaks and job accommodations) to begin working.
Limitation of “Undue Hardship”
There is also a limit to the employer’s Duty to Accommodate based on potential negative impacts an accommodation could have on the employer. This is called “undue hardship”. For example, an accommodation that compromises employee safety or puts the employer at major financial risk could be an “undue hardship”.
There is no exact definition for this concept because it depends on several factors. The key point is that your employer is expected to endure “considerable” hardship, if needed, to help you return to work!
Exceptions to Duty to Accommodate
Some job requirements cannot be accommodated. “Bone fide” (or “genuine”) job requirements are absolutely necessary, usually for safety reasons. For example, it’s a “bone fide” job requirement for a firefighter to be able to lift a certain weight in order to rescue people. Another example is the requirement that a taxi driver have adequate vision to safely operate a vehicle.
Take a few moments to think about the tasks you perform at work. Are there any duties that you think may be “bone fide” job requirements?