Guidelines for Accommodating Family Status
This guideline must be read in conjunction with the City’s Accommodation Policy and corresponding Procedures.
The term ‘Management’ refers to Divisional supervisors and managers, as well as Human Resources staff.
The City’s Accommodation Policy outlines the obligation to accommodate individuals in accordance with the City’s Human Rights and Anti-Harassment/Discrimination policy, the Ontario Human Rights Code (Code) and the Employment Standards Act (ESA). This guide has been prepared to raise awareness and fulfill our shared obligation to accommodate employees, job applicants and service recipients based on the ground of Family Status
The Code requires that all employees, job applicants and service recipients receive equal treatment and opportunities regardless of their family status and have the right to be free from discrimination based on family status.
Family status is defined as the status of being in a parent-child relationship, and includes any relationship that is equivalent to the care, responsibilities and commitment of a parent to a child. “Parent” includes any person acting in the position of parent to a child, including biological, adoptive, foster, step-parents, legal guardians, or even a friend or family member who has taken responsibility for the care of a child whose parent(s) is not able to raise the child. An adult child who is responsible for the care of a parent (e.g., providing elder care) is also in a relationship that is included in the definition of family status.
Family Status Accommodation
All employees, job applicants and service recipients have a right to be treated with respect and dignity and to participate fully in both service and employment activities regardless of family status. Every effort will be made to identify and remove barriers experienced by individuals as a result of their family status when accessing services and/or employment activities.
Family status requests may arise when personal circumstances and/or workplace rules, changes, or conditions adversely impact employees/job applicants/service recipients who have child/parental care-giving obligations; thereby creating an adverse impact/real disadvantage to the parent/child relationship and the responsibilities that flow from that relationship in a significant way.
Assessing the Accommodation Request
An assessment of whether there is an adverse impact/real disadvantage to the parent/child relationship must be undertaken to determine if an individual’s child/parental care-giving obligations engage the City’s duty to accommodate up to the point of undue hardship. This assessment would include confirming:
- Whether the child/parent is under the care and/or supervision of the individual
- Whether the need is based on an essential or legal obligation which flows from the parent-child relationship
- Whether the rule/requirement (e.g. the specific work hours or service requirement) creates real disadvantage to the parent-child relationship and the obligations which flow from it (i.e. it is not trivial, insubstantial, or merely a negative impact).
Assessing the impact of whether the rule/requirement causes real disadvantage to a family status interest should be done contextually, based on the individual circumstances. This may include an assessment of other supports/care-giving arrangements available to the individual (for example, a single parent’s circumstances may be assessed differently than those of a two parent relationship, or an only child may have additional responsibilities to care for their own parent). Individuals who request family status accommodation must cooperate in good faith and consider reasonable accommodation solutions to address the need.
When assessing accommodation requests based on family status, some issues to consider include the following:
- What is the nature of the care-giving obligation that affects/conflicts with the individual’s ability to carry out their work obligations or participate in a service, (e.g., does the child/parent have a disabling condition for which unique care is necessary; is there a custody/parole arrangement in place; is the Children’s Aid Society involved?; Does the child have Power of Attorney and is required to make medical decisions for their parent?)
- Does the request for accommodation relate to an essential parental obligation, or is it a matter of personal preference or convenience?
- What sort of accommodation is the individual requesting? (e.g., reduced/changed hours, modified location, modified shifts, an appointment/meeting time being changed, etc.)
- What is the duration of the accommodation the individual is seeking? (temporary, sporadic or indefinite)
- Are there any transitional measures that can be implemented while appropriate childcare/eldercare arrangements are being made?
- Are other supports available to the individual to provide alternate care arrangements, such as:
- adult family members
- teenage family members
- friends or neighbours
- nannies or baby sitters
- professional caregivers for special needs children/parents
- day/elder care facilities
- placing name on waiting lists of alternative facilities<
- securing a personal support worker
- securing alternate mobility arrangements such as busing or Wheel-Trans
The City’s confidential Employee Assistance Program (EAP) may be able to provide assistance to employees in identifying alternative child/parental care arrangements. Employees who are members of a union or COTAPSAI can also consult their union/association representative for support, advice and assistance with accommodation.
Individuals requesting family status accommodation are expected to provide verifiable information to assist management in understanding the family status related needs/obligations and its impact. This may include documentation (e-mails and written correspondence) to and from care providers or specialized facilities. If the request for accommodation is linked to a court ordered or custody arrangement, a copy of the legal document should be provided to management to support the accommodation request.
If the accommodation requested relates to the medical needs of an employee’s child or parent, the services of the City’s Employee Health and Rehabilitation (EHR) staff may be engaged. EHR staff may request objective medical information related to the employee’s request to substantiate/explore accommodation when it relates to a family member with medical issues. Confidential medical information should be provided to staff in the EHR, and should not be given to divisional management. Staff in the EHR can liaise with medical practitioners, verify medical information and (where appropriate) assist with options/assessments and referrals.
Accommodation options for employees can include the following:
- changing work shifts, job-sharing or task-sharing arrangements
- shift work within child/parental care limitations
- flexible start time/altered work hours
- exploring commuting options where necessary
- transfer to a different work location
- time off consistent with City policies and collective agreement leave provisions to attend a child/parent’s medical appointments
- unpaid leave of absence where paid leave provisions have been exhausted
Accommodation options for service recipients/job applicants can include the following:
- Child/stroller friendly facilities
- Changing interview/appointment/meeting times
- Ensuring programs and services do not include barriers that restrict families based on children’s ages
Employees may wish to explore the applicable leave provisions (see Related Links section below) for information on time-off that eligible employees may take towards family status needs, including Childcare and Eldercare Leave, Parental Leave, Family Medical Leave, Family Caregiver Leave, Critically Ill Child Care Leave and Care for Ill Dependents.
Divisional management can consult appropriate Human Resources staff regarding the use of City leave policies, collective agreement issues, job modifications, etc.
Management and employees may also contact the Human Rights Office for confidential advice and assistance.
Human Rights Office: 416-392-8383 TTY 416-397-7332
Employee Assistance Program: 416-392-6633
Employee Health and Rehabilitation Services: 416-392-7330
Director, Equity, Diversity and Human Rights Division
August 25, 2014
February 23, 2017
Understanding Functional Limitations
Human Rights and Anti-Harassment/Discrimination Policy
Human Rights and Anti-Harassment/Discrimination Policy Complaint Procedures
Ontario Human Rights Code
Ontario Human Rights Commission
Employment Standards Act