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Types of reasonable accommodations employees may request

On Behalf of | Mar 20, 2023 | Employment Law |

Employees with medical conditions and disabilities can perform their jobs as well as anyone else, but they may need accommodations. As an employer in Canada, you have a duty to provide these accommodations under many circumstances, so it can help to know what these might look like.

Examples of accommodations

People can require adjustment to working conditions for a range of reasons, from being pregnant to being blind. The changes are not to give these workers an unfair advantage; they are to level the field so that they can perform their job.

Accommodations can include adaptations, adjustments, tools or exemptions. Depending on the person’s limitations and needs, specific requests might consist of:

  • Ergonomic chairs
  • Reserved parking spaces
  • Flexible work schedules
  • Audio or video equipment
  • Frequent, regular check-ins
  • Additional breaks
  • Being able to sit in a chair instead of standing
  • Wheelchair-accessible workspaces

These provisions can be immensely helpful to employees and, in general, will not be overly disruptive or expensive to put in place.

Must employers approve all requested accommodations?

While employers in Canada have a legal obligation to accommodate workers, there are restrictions and limitations. 

Primarily, employers may be able to deny a request or offer alternatives if the requested accommodation puts an undue hardship on the employer. For example, you might be within your rights to deny requests that:

  • Put additional work on other employees
  • Make the space unsafe for others
  • Are too expensive
  • Would fundamentally change the nature of the employee’s job
  • Disrupts operations

However, before denying a request, it can be wise to consider alternative or lesser accommodations. 

As an example, let’s consider a situation where an employee requests continual check-ins and manager approval. You might decide that such a request would be too disruptive because it would prevent the manager from fulfilling other job duties. Instead of denying the proposal altogether, you could offer more frequent check-ins.

Know your rights and responsibilities

As an employer, you want to take care of your employees and ensure they have the resources to perform their jobs. Yet, you don’t want to overextend yourself. If you have questions about whether you must provide accommodations for a worker, talking to a lawyer can be wise.



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