Employers & Employees
Employers must be sensitive, inclusive, and flexible when a person requests an accommodation. Making an exception or changes to policy or procedures in order to accommodate an individual or group is your responsibility under the Human Rights Act. A refusal to accommodate could be discrimination. Accommodation is not always perfect but it has to be reasonable and not cause undue hardship.
The fundamental right to equality is protected in all areas of employment. This means equal access to employment opportunities and equitable treatment in the workplace.
What is accommodation?
Accommodation means making changes to certain rules, standards, policies, and physical environments to allow all employees to participate equally in the workplace. The duty to accommodate is based on the principle that we may need to treat people equitably in order to meet everyone’s unique needs and achieve equality.
A pregnant employee could ask for an accommodation for medical reasons. The employee could ask for changing the work schedule or reassigning duties to accommodate her condition. Another example is an employee who, because of their religious beliefs, asks to be able to pray at set times during the workday.
The duty to accommodate applies to all employers in the Northwest Territories.
Employees can ask for an accommodation to overcome a disadvantage caused by a rule or a practice. For example, an employee could ask for a different office chair, computer equipment or software to accommodate his or her disability.
Employers must respond to a request for accommodation. Employers must consider all options for accommodation and provide the accommodation that most respects the dignity of the employee without imposing an undue hardship on the employer.
Employees are expected to be reasonable in their requests and in considering proposals that address their needs effectively. A human rights complaint may not stand up if an employee has not cooperated.
Unions must take an active role in facilitating accommodation up to the point of undue hardship. Unions can become a party to discrimination if they block an employer’s efforts to find an accommodation.
A workplace accommodation policy can help you and your staff understand your rights and responsibilities in the accommodation process. For information about developing a workplace accommodation policy, see the Commission’s “Duty to Accommodate: A Guide for Employers.”
For more information about how the NWT Human Rights Act applies to the workplace, have a look at the resources below. If you still have questions, give us a call.