Workplace Accommodation Procedures
INTERIM ACCOMMODATION PROCEDURES
As faculty and staff return to work at our campuses over the next few months, there may be an increase in applications for the accommodation (Accommodation) of limitations associated with protected characteristics under the Human Rights Code, other than physical or mental disability (Protected Characteristic), in the workplace.
To optimize the University’s ability to respond in a timely, effective, consistent, and transparent manner to these applications (Applications), we are introducing Interim Accommodation Procedures (IAPs).
Accommodation for physical or mental disability
The IAPs do not apply to applications for the accommodation of a limitation associated with a physical or mental disability. Applications for the accommodation of a limitation associated with a physical or mental disability will continue to be addressed by the University's Organizational Health office using existing procedures.
If you require a medical accommodation due to a physical or mental disability, please contact the Organizational Health office at Org_health@sfu.ca to review your accommodation needs and next steps. If you belong to a Union or APSA, you may also choose to involve your Union or APSA in the accommodation process.
What is an Accommodation?
An Accommodation is an adjustment, for a specific person, to the usual application of an employer rule or practice. The adjustment is designed to address the negative impact that the usual application of the rule or practice has on that person, because of the interaction between the usual application of the rule or practice, and a limitation that the person has in connection with a Protected Characteristic. It is not possible to generalize about whether an Accommodation is always necessary, or what a particular Accommodation will look like, since each Application must be addressed on the facts associated with the Application.
What are the Protected Characteristics under the Human Rights Code?
For purposes of employment, the Protected Characteristics are: race, colour, ancestry, place of origin, political belief, religion, marital status, family status, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, and conviction of a criminal or summary conviction offence unrelated to a person’s employment or intended employment. Physical or mental disability are also protected under the Human Rights Code but, as noted above, the accommodation of limitations associated with those characteristics will not be addressed under the IAPs.
What if I my limitation arises from a physical or mental disability?
You should apply for the accommodation of a limitation associated with a physical or mental disability. Please contact the Organizational Health office at Org_health@sfu.ca to review your accommodation needs and next steps.
What if my limitation arises from a Protected Characteristic?
- Complete an IAP Application - If you believe you have a limitation arising from a Protected Characteristic for which you require accommodation, complete an IAP Application.
- Submit your Application - Once you have completed your Application, you should provide it to your manager or supervisor.
Once you become aware of a need to submit an Application, please do not delay. The AC is not able to guarantee assessment of any Application by a particular date (see FAQ below).
What should I expect?
- Your supervisor will work with Human Resources or Faculty Relations, as appropriate, to submit your Application to the Accommodations Committee (AC) established by the IAPs
- Submit your Application to the Accommodations Committee (firstname.lastname@example.org), 4 months prior to the date of the requested accommodation.
- ie. For a Spring Semester accommodation beginning in January, submit your Application in the Fall Semester prior (in September), to ensure the process can be completed by your requested accommodation date.
- After submitting your Application, you should receive a confirmation email within 3 days of your submission, if you don't, please resend your application.
- The IAC meets regularly to review Applications, and may ask you to provide additional information, including supporting documents, to support your Application and/or may consult with you, your manager or supervisor, and/or Human Resources or Faculty Relations, to make a decision on the Application.
- If you belong to a Union or APSA, and you have chosen to involve your Union or APSA in your Application, the AC may also consult with your Union or APSA representative.
- If the AC approves your Application, the AC will work with your supervisor or manager to design an Accommodation, will oversee the implementation of the Accommodation, and may review the Accommodation with you from time to time, especially if there has been a change in your circumstances.
- Applications can only be approved or denied by the AC. Decisions should not be made by managers or supervisors before the AC has issued its decision.
The formal IAPs that govern the application, decision, and accommodation design and implementation process can be found here.
WORKPLACE ACCOMMODATION FAQs
Why is the University implementing the IAPs?
For some time, the University has had a policy – GP40 (Disability Accommodations in the Workplace) – to address applications for the accommodation of limitations associated with a physical or mental disability. However, Policy GP40 and its associated process, which is managed by Organizational Health, does not address applications for the accommodation of a limitation associated with the Protected Characteristics. These requests were typically addressed directly between an employee and the employee’s supervisor or manager with, in some cases, the involvement of Human Resources or Faculty Relations and the employee’s Union or APSA. The IAPs are designed to replace this informal approach with a timely, effective, consistent, and transparent process, especially at a time when the University is anticipating an increase in Applications.
Why are the IAPs being implemented on an interim, and not a permanent, basis?
The IAPs are being implemented on an interim basis because the University is revising Policy GP40 so that it addresses the accommodation of limitations associated with the Protected Characteristics. Once the revision of Policy GP40 has been completed – likely by late 2021 – the revised Policy GP40 will replace the IAPs.
What if I want to ask for adjustments to my working conditions, but not because I face a limitation associated with a Protected Characteristic?
The IAPs are designed to address the legal rights and duties that are associated with the Accommodation of a limitation associated with a Protected Characteristic. However, it is important to distinguish between:
- the legal rights and duties that relate to an Accommodation, which may result in the adjustment of working conditions for a specific employee; and
- an employee’s personal preferences about working conditions, which do not give rise to any comparable legal rights and duties.
If you want to make alternate arrangements in respect of your working conditions for reasons other than a limitation associated with a Protected Characteristic, you should discuss your specific circumstances with your supervisor.
Who will be on the AC?
The members of the AC will be drawn from the VPA Office and Human Resources and will have experience in addressing questions and concerns from faculty and staff about workplace matters. The AC will be fully supported by external legal counsel who have expertise in human rights matters, including Accommodation.
Can my Union or APSA representative support me in connection with my Application?
You may involve your Union or APSA representative at any time. If you consent to the University sharing information about your Application with your Union or APSA, the University will include your identified Union or APSA representative in communications about your Application.
How long will it take for the AC to assess my Application and make a decision?
The amount of time it takes for the AC to assess an Application will depend on various circumstances, such as: whether an Application is complete when submitted, the complexity of the Application, and the volume of Applications being assessed by the AC at any given time.
What if my Application is denied?
Supervisors and managers understand that everyone’s return to campus circumstances are different. While the AC may decide the University is not legally required to provide an employee with an Accommodation, supervisors and managers have been encouraged to be flexible when considering the circumstances of their team members. You should, therefore, discuss your circumstances with your supervisor or manager. You may also reach out to your Union or APSA representative for information regarding available supports.
Where do I go if I have a question which has not been answered in the FAQs?
Please note: This webpage and FAQs use defined terms as a form of shorthand for a longer phrase. A defined term is identified in brackets and boldface type and is capitalized when used . A defined term means the same thing whenever it is used here.