Home|Webinars|Accommodating Episodic Disabilities

Accommodating Episodic Disabilities: The latest law and research

Thursday, May 14, 2020, 12:30 pm - 2:00 pm EDT

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Colin Johnston



Paul Champ

Union Counsel
Champ & Associates
Monique Gignac

Scientific Co-Director and Senior Scientist
Institute for Work & Health
Chelsea Rasmussen

Employer Counsel
Dentons Canada LLP


Episodic disabilities, such as depression, anxiety, arthritis, and multiple sclerosis, are characterized by periods of good health alternating with periods of illness or disability. Because symptoms of these disabilities fluctuate, they create unique accommodation challenges. The Institute for Work & Health is currently developing evidence-based workplace resources to support workplace parties in meeting these challenges. In this session, Monique Gignac, the leader of this research effort, will discuss the best practices identified by her research while leading labour lawyers provide guidance on meeting legal obligations. Questions to be addressed include the following:

  • What are the most common challenges that arise in the accommodation of workers with episodic disabilities? What are the most difficult aspects of accommodation for workers, employers, and unions?
  • How should key communication challenges be dealt with? For example, how should employees and employers maintain communication about accommodation needs, which may change frequently, while respecting employee privacy? What role do unions play in such communication?
  • What are the key steps to successful accommodation of employees with episodic disabilities? How can accommodation plans be structured to meet changing — and potentially unpredictable — needs?
  • What types of accommodations are generally helpful to employees with episodic disabilities (e.g. flex time, working from home)?
  • What role does the unpredictability of absences play in the undue hardship analysis? Are there effective strategies for mitigating the adverse effects of unpredictable absences on both the workplace and the employee in accommodation?
  • How should workplace parties deal with performance concerns that arise as a result of an employee's episodic disability? In what circumstances, if any, is it appropriate to apply standard performance management policies and practices to remedy performance concerns?
  • When should an employee go off work on sick leave or disability leave rather than continuing to work with accommodations? How do short-term and long-term disability insurance programs apply to employees who may have relatively short but frequent periods of disability? How does the availability of such benefits affect the employer's duty to accommodate?

Additional Information

Valuable, up-to-date materials and case summaries will be available for downloading from our website. Each audio conference is accompanied by a PDF of concise summaries of the cases discussed.

Audio conference MP3 files are available for $265. Those who have purchased the live audio conference may purchase the corresponding downloadable audio MP3 file for the discounted price of $165.

The recorded MP3 file and materials are available for download one business day after the live audio conference. After purchasing, you will receive an e-mail with instructions on how to access and download the audio conference MP3 file and materials by visiting My Account and selecting Order History. For audio file purchases for upcoming audio conferences, once the MP3 file is available through our site, registrants will receive an update e-mail informing them that the links are now ready.

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