Fight for Your Right to Workplace Accommodation
We all have different needs in life. For many, this necessitates unique solutions in order to offer more equal opportunities for employment. Whatever your disability may be, you have the right to request certain accommodations to which employers have a duty to respond. It is critical that you know what those rights are in order to be ready to fight for them. This is not only to your benefit, but to the benefit of employers, fellow co-workers, and society as a whole.
In Ontario, workers are protected by the province’s Human Rights Code and Accessibility for Ontarions with Disabilities Act. Legislation ensures that employers and service providers must give equal access to individuals with disabilities. This involves removing barriers which prevent or deter access, and pertains to physical disabilities and what are often deemed invisible disabilities, such as chronic fatigue, mental illness, and arthritis. Employers and their employees must work together to determine the best form of accommodation.
This accommodation varies from person to person. For example, employees requiring additional breaks due to a physical disability such as Multiple Sclerosis might need different lengths of breaks depending on the nature of their condition. If you are in a wheelchair, you have a right to fight for accessible entry such as a ramp. If you are deaf or hard of hearing, you have a right to fight for sign language interpreters in meetings. If you suffer from chronic pain, you have the right to fight for ergonomic office furniture. Employees must also provide additional training and coaching for employees with learning disabilities, provide flexible work hours and breaks for those with gastrointestinal disease or physical disability, and more. You have a right to request this help and should not be afraid to do so.
It is essential that you ask for the accommodation you need and explain why you need it in writing. By providing further details on your restrictions or limitations, it makes it easier for employers to understand and assist. Work with your employer and create an open dialogue to allow all parties to work towards a solution. It is to everyone’s benefit. Studies have shown that employees with disabilities are likelier to stay in a role longer, and are less likely to get into accidents at the workplace. The increased diversity in the workplace builds a better work culture, one of greater inclusivity that will help stir new ideas and boost morale. Most important of all, it will do away with the stigma that results in people with disabilities being all too often refused employment. We all apply for jobs we want to do and consider ourselves qualified for, and people with disabilities are just as capable at excelling.
Workplace accommodation is essential. You have the right to request the accommodation you require based on your own particular needs. Whatever your disability is, be prepared to speak up on the issue. You are not only improving your own situation, but also improving the culture of your workplace and opportunities for others as well. We all benefit from a more equal and more inclusive workforce. Know your rights. Fight for them.
Human Rights Legal Support Centre. “Your Right to Accomodation.” https://www.hrlsc.on.ca/en/how-guides-and-faqs/your-right-accommodation
Thomson, Greg. “Accommodating Invisible Disabilities in the Workplace.” https://www.aoda.ca/accommodating-invisible-disabilities-in-the-workplace-2/
EmployAbilities. “Top 5 Reasons to Hire a Person With Disabilities.” https://employabilities.ab.ca/top-5-reasons-to-hire-a-person-with-disabilities/