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Accommodating Disabilities

Balancing Attendance Management, Accommodation and Return to Work

Attendance management programs have become increasingly common in workplaces across Canada. The goal of these programs is to reduce absenteeism, but some absences are unavoidable, especially for employees with disabilities. In this in-depth training session, participants will master how to balance the objectives of attendance management programs with the legal duty to accommodate employees with disabilities.

This session will equip participants with the knowledge and skills necessary to:

  • Craft effective sick leave and attendance management policies that comply with human rights and privacy law
  • Identify the point at which the duty to accommodate ends because undue hardship results from disability-related absenteeism
  • Make appropriate inquiries into an employee’s health when a disability has not been disclosed
  • Communicate effectively during attendance management meetings while ensuring fairness to employees involved in an attendance management program

During the session participants will practise applying skills and knowledge to matters related to attendance management and receive feedback from experts.



E-mail Roshien Asanta or call (416) 977-6618 for more information. We can help to tailor a Customized Training package for you.

Sample Schedule

8:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m.


9:00 a.m. – 9:15 a.m.

 INTRODUCTION:  Introductions and Review of Agenda

9:15 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.

 PART 1:  Overview of Attendance Management Programs – Objectives, Structure, Common Objections

Experienced union and employer legal counsel will discuss whether Attendance Management Programs are an appropriate way to respond to innocent absenteeism and the characteristics of effective policies and programs.

9:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.

 PART 2:  Legal Requirements Regarding Attendance Management Programs, Accommodation and Return to Work

Experienced union and employer legal counsel will provide an overview of the legal issues involved in implementing Attendance Management Programs including setting threshold levels of attendance and the exercise of discretion in applying policies.

10:30 a.m. – 10:45 a.m.


10:45 a.m. – 11:45 a.m.

 PART 3:  Collective Agreement and Attendance Management Policy Language

Experienced union and employer legal counsel will discuss the pros and cons of including a negotiated Attendance Management Program in a collective agreement.


Participants will work in groups to review collective agreement language and Attendance Management Program language to answer questions and identify potential legal issues.

11:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.

 PART 4:  Medical Information Required to Support Absences and Accommodation Requests

Experienced panelists, including an Occupational Health Nurse, will discuss legal and practical issues associated with medical documentation and managing employee attendance. Topics will include: how much medical information can be required?; medical information in duty to accommodate scenarios; and access and disclosure of personal health information.

12:15 p.m. – 1:15 p.m.


1:15 p.m. – 1:45 p.m.

 PART 5:  Consulting the Appropriate Healthcare Professional

Experienced panelists will discuss issues associated with addressing absenteeism when mental health may be a factor; topics include recognizing the signs and symptoms of a mental health issue or disability; dealing with denial, and accommodating absences due to mental health issues.

1:45 p.m. – 2:15 p.m.

 PART 6:  Appropriate Communications in Attendance Management and the Role of Union Representatives in Attendance Management

Experienced panelists will discuss legal and practical challenges in conducting attendance management meetings and the role of union representatives at attendance management meetings.

2:15 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.


2:30 p.m. – 3:15 p.m.

 INTERACTIVE EXERCISE:  Effective Communications and Representation Skills

Participants will work in groups to practice appropriate communication and representation skills in role-playing exercises and receive feedback from workshop leaders.

3:15 p.m. – 4:15 p.m.

 INTERACTIVE EXERCISE:  Applying Knowledge and Skills to an Attendance Management Scenario

Participants will work in groups to address an attendance management problem drawn from a real life example and practice applying the knowledge and skills introduced earlier in the session and receive feedback from workshop leaders.

4:15 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.


Workshop leaders will review key concepts from the day and answer questions.

Additional Information

Includes materials, with case summaries and analyses, prepared by Lancaster's legal staff.