Workplace accommodation refers to the University’s obligation under the Ontario Human Rights Code to prevent and remove barriers and provide reasonable accommodation to the point of undue hardship. The principle of accommodation applies to all grounds of the Code but within the context of employment most accommodation needs relate to disability, religion and family status.
Workplace Accommodation Guidelines
This document provides an overview of the workplace accommodation process including the responsibilities of Human Resources, supervisors, employees and the union/association. Given the current situation, it also highlights examples of potential accommodation needs within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Duty to Accommodate: A Guide for Supervisors
Supervisors are a key partner in the accommodation process. This document provides an overview of the role and responsibilities of supervisors with respect to workplace accommodation and highlights examples of reasonable accommodations within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic
Frequently Asked Questions
An employee’s fear of potential exposure to the virus does not constitute grounds for accommodation. Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, employees have a right to refuse unsafe work. Work refusals should not be based on fear alone but on the employee’s reasonable belief that the University has not taken the necessary measures to protect employee health and minimize the potential exposure to the hazard (COVID-19). As with any workplace hazard, the University is responsible for taking every reasonable precaution to protect the health and safety of employees.
Supervisors and employees are encouraged to become familiar with the health and safety procedures with respect to work refusals, which can be found on the Human Resources website at: https://www.uwindsor.ca/humanresources/safety/safetytopics/workrefusal
Employees are also encouraged to become familiar with the return to campus heath and safety guidelines designed to keep the campus community safe.
An employee may request an accommodation based on family status. This may involve being in a parent and child relationship based on care, responsibility, and commitment. Employees are required to provide information to outline what they have done to self-accommodate their family status situation and that no such alternative solution is reasonably accessible.
Employees who may require an accommodation based on family status are asked to complete the Employee Request for Accommodation Form and submit it to their immediate supervisor. Employees who have any questions or need assistance completing the form, should reach out to their supervisor, union representative (if applicable) or the applicable Labour Relations Manager or Human Resources Manager (Managerial and Professional Group).
These accommodation requests will be reviewed within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and the supports available to the employee. For instance, what are the Ontario Public Health Guidelines and measures at the time of the request? Are schools/daycares/camps closed? Are there lapses in childcare or after school programs? Does the employee have a spouse/partner or family member that can support them and share the family responsibilities?
An employee may request a medical accommodation due to their diagnosed medical condition (i.e., being immunocompromised) including physical and mental health disabilities and addictions.
Employees who may require an accommodation based on a medical condition/disability are asked to complete the Employee Request for Accommodation Form and submit it to their immediate supervisor. Employees who have any questions or need assistance completing the form, should reach out to their supervisor, union representative (if applicable) or the applicable Labour Relations Manager or Human Resources Manager (Managerial and Professional Group).
Medical documentation will be required to substantiate the request for accommodation. Human Resources will work with the employee to facilitate getting the supporting medical documentation. The University requires information from the employee’s treating physician to understand the medical restrictions or limitations that the employee is experiencing from their medical condition, illness, or injury as they relate to their ability to attend work and/or perform their duties and responsibilities. Information regarding their prognosis, but not the actual medical condition, will also be required.
Morneau Shepell is the provider of the Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP) at the University of Windsor. They can provide employees and their family with immediate and confidential support to help resolve work, health, and life challenges, including challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Services and supports can be accessed online, via chat, you can e-mail a counsellor, call 1-844-880-9137 or via the MY EAP mobile app. For more details on how to access confidential assistance/supports for any work, health or life concern go to the UWindsor Employee and Family Assistance Program page.
In addition to this, the Employee Mental Health Resources website includes resources and supports available in our community and online.
Should an employee experience any sensitivities due to a hand sanitizer, cleaner or PPE provided, they should make their immediate supervisor aware. The supervisor will then explore alternative products that could be used in the department to address the employee’s scent and/or other sensitivities.
The Scent-Free Guidelines can be found on the Office of Human Rights, Equity and Accessibility (OHREA) website