March 1, 2018

For many Canadian workers in the “sandwich generation”, squeezed between the demands of caring for both their children and their elderly parents, the need for workplace family status accommodation is greater than ever. However, conflicting approaches in different jurisdictions have created significant uncertainty for workplace parties grappling with questions such as when the duty arises, whether the employee has made sufficient efforts to manage their obligations, and whether the employer has accommodated to the point of undue hardship.

In this audio conference, seasoned experts will address these issues through a review of developments in the law of family status accommodation. Topics to be addressed include:

  • Defining “family”: What is the definition of “family” for the purpose of family status discrimination? Is it restricted to the parent-child relationship? What relationships give rise to the duty to accommodate?
  • The legal test: What is the legal test for family status discrimination? What are the competing approaches being taken across Canada regarding family status protection? Does the legal approach differ if dealing with non-childcare cases?
  • Employee’s obligation to self-accommodate: How far does the obligation to “self-accommodate” extend? How can an employee demonstrate that he or she has made reasonable efforts to meet their family care obligations and that there are no appropriate alternative solutions? To what extent can an employer question whether the employee has made sufficient efforts to manage his or her family obligations prior to seeking accommodation?
  • Examples of accommodations: What sort of accommodations might be required in cases of family-related needs and obligations? Modified work schedules? Flex time? Telecommuting? Entire summers off? How should employers and unions address accommodation requests that conflict with provisions of the collective agreement, such as scheduling, benefits or seniority provisions?
  • Right to request: Is “right to request” legislation coming to Canada? What do we know about it and how does it work in other jurisdictions? What policies and procedures do employers need to put in place to appropriately respond to requests?
  • Establishing undue hardship: What type of evidence will an employer need to establish that it has accommodated an employee’s family status obligations to the point of undue hardship? Can an employer argue that having a number of employees seeking accommodations at the same time constitutes undue hardship?