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Workplace Accommodation (OPS)

❗ During the COVID-19 pandemic

It goes without saying that the COVID-19 pandemic has turned our world upside-down.

If you are experiencing issues balancing work and family care obligations, or if stress, timing, or other factors associated with overtime demands are significantly impacting your mental or physical health, it may be necessary to request flexibility from your Employer or a more formal accommodation.

For matters related to workload and overtime:

For matters related to family care responsibilities:

For matters related to your physical or mental health:

See updates for members on COVID-19 »


Contents

Introduction

Eligibility

Workplace accommodations

Workplace accommodations related to disability

How to request a workplace accommodation related to disability

Payments for medical certificates, forms, and questionnaires

Returning to work after time off due to illness or injury

If you have questions or need assistance


Introduction

The Ontario Human Rights Code gives you the right to be accommodated at work, short of undue hardship to your Employer, based on your Code-protected needs. It would be inequitable for your Employer to exclude you because of any differences you have from most of your colleagues.

And not only is AMAPCEO is committed to ensuring that every workplace is equitable for all, the union can provide you with individual assistance in seeking an accommodation from your Employer that allows you to be treated fairly at work.

This assistance is an important advantage of being a unionized professional.


Eligibility

All employees are eligible to request a workplace accommodation.


Workplace accommodations

A workplace accommodation is an agreement between you and your manager that allows you to be treated equally at work by modifying the terms and conditions of your employment or adjusting your workplace environment.

In Ontario, you can request a workplace accommodation for any of the following protected grounds in the Ontario Human Rights Code:

  • race,
  • ancestry,
  • place of origin,
  • colour,
  • ethnic origin,
  • citizenship,
  • creed (which can include religious needs),
  • sex,
  • sexual orientation,
  • gender identity,
  • gender expression,
  • age,
  • record of offences,
  • marital status,
  • family status (which can include caregiving responsibilities), or
  • disability.

The most common request for a workplace accommodation is related to disability. Disability is broadly defined and includes nearly any health condition that may affect your full capacity to work.

If you require a workplace accommodation for any of the other Code-protected grounds, please seek the assistance of an AMAPCEO Workplace Representative.


Workplace accommodations related to disability

A medical restriction is a task that should not be performed due to the risk of medical injury or harm. A functional limitation is a task that is not capable of being performed.

Employers have a duty to accommodate restrictions and limitations that are physical, behavioural, or cognitive.

Examples of physical restrictions or limitations include:

  • prolonged sitting,
  • standing,
  • walking, and
  • hand function.

Examples of behavioural or cognitive restrictions or limitations include:

  • tolerance to distracting stimuli,
  • ability to tolerate time pressures, and
  • ability to perform multiple tasks.

The accommodation agreement you create with your manager should identify each of your restrictions and limitations and the corresponding accommodation.

You and your medical practitioner are not required to provide your Employer with the diagnosis of your disability at any time.

How to request a workplace accommodation related to disability

1. We recommend you seek the assistance of an AMAPCEO Workplace Representative. Their guidance will be helpful with your request.

2. Request written documentation from a qualified medical practitioner. This description should include your limitations and restrictions in performing the essential duties of your job, but not the specific diagnosis of your disability.

3. Submit this documentation to your manager.

4. Your manager or an Employer representative will ask you to consent for the disclosure of confidential health information. Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, you have a right to withhold your consent; however, your manager may not have enough information to provide you with a workplace accommodation.

5. Once you have requested an accommodation, your manager will give you a Request for Employee Health Information Form/Questionnaire (HIF/HIQ). This form is designed to help your manager understand your work restrictions and limitations and establishes the foundation of your request. We recommend asking your Workplace Representative for help with this.

6. Ask your doctor to complete the HIF/HIQ and return the forms to you. As a rule, your doctor and your Employer should never interact directly.

7. Submit your completed HIF/HIQ to the Disability Accommodation Specialist indicated.

8. Meet with your manager, who will also likely bring along a Disability Accommodation Specialist. Together, you will jointly develop a workplace accommodation agreement. The final agreement may not be exactly what you were seeking, but it should accommodate your disability-related restrictions and limitations. You have the right to have a Workplace Representative join you for any meeting with your manager related to a workplace accommodation.

Payments for medical certificates, forms, and questionnaires

Some medical practitioners will charge a fee to complete a medical certificate, form, or questionnaire. These fees should be paid by your Employer as they require this information.

Typically, a doctor’s office can directly invoice your Employer for these costs; however, you may need to pay the fee at your doctor’s office and then submit a request to be reimbursed to your manager.


Returning to work after time off due to illness or injury

If you have taken time off work due to illness or injury (most likely under the Short-Term Sickness Plan or the Long-Term Income Protection Plan), your medical practitioner may recommend a gradual return to work based on your medical needs, the severity of your condition, and the complexity of your work.

This is to ease yourself back into working while preventing further illness or injury.

This process is similar to developing a workplace accommodation agreement for a disability with your manager. Please seek the assistance of an AMAPCEO Workplace Representative.


If you have questions or need assistance

Please contact an AMAPCEO Workplace Representative in your District. They do not have to be in your Ministry.

Workplace Representatives are trained union members who have volunteered to confidentially assist members like you in the workplace. They should be your first point of contact in seeking information and representation with an issue at work.

Your Workplace Representative may ask you to use the union’s secure web-based system, RADAR, to provide details about your situation. RADAR will help you and your Workplace Representative keep track of things without the privacy concerns that could come from using the Employer’s email system.

Fact Sheet

Bargaining Unit: Ontario Public Service (OPS)

Collective Agreement Articles: 7, 36, & 37

First Published: August 19, 2020

Last Updated: March 4, 2021

Contact a Workplace Representative

See more Ontario Public Service Fact Sheets