Duty to Accomodate and Training Standards

May 4, 2017

Duty to Accommodate

The employer has a duty to accommodate members with disabilities, including mental illness. Laws related to accommodation say a worker needs to be able to perform the essential duties of their job, and the accommodations must be reasonable and not cause undue hardship to the employer.

While accommodation is the law, it is helpful to have clear language in the collective agreement as well.

Some of the provisions to bargain include:

  • Language that defines disability broadly and includes mental illness.
  • The procedure for accommodation, including the roles of employer, worker, and union.
  • Appropriate training for the worker being accommodated and for co-workers.
  • An assessment of the accommodation after a certain amount of time, with leeway for further accommodation, if needed.
  • A return to work process for workers who require accommodation after leave for mental health reasons.

Training and standards

Mental health training for workers benefits union members by creating a better environment for people with mental health challenges, and an awareness of how to create healthy workplaces that minimize the stresses that can initiate some mental illnesses.

Some unions have negotiated a variety of mandatory joint human rights or health and safety training programs in their contracts. In addition, the National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace offers a systematic approach to mentally healthy workplaces, and the Mental Injury Toolkit has a focus on preventing harm to members by surveying health effects caused by workplace stressors.

  • Does your contract include mandatory joint training or union training for mental health?
  • Can you negotiate all or part of the national standard into your collective agreement?
  • Can you bargain for joint training or union training on the Mental Injury Toolkit?