Directive on the Duty to Accommodate

Provides direction to managers and heads of HR on their obligations with respect to duty to accommodate, with the objective of developing an inclusive, barrier-free workplace in which all persons have equal access to opportunities in the core public administration.
Date modified: 2020-04-01

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1. Effective date

  • 1.1This directive takes effect on April 1, 2020.
  • 1.2This directive replaces the Policy on the Duty to Accommodate Persons with Disabilities in the Federal Public Service dated June 3, 2002.

2. Authorities

  • 2.1This directive is issued pursuant to the same authorities indicated in section 2 of the Policy on People Management.

3. Objectives and expected results

  • 3.1In addition to the objectives indicated in section 3 of the Policy on People Management, the objective of this directive is to develop an inclusive, barrier‑free workplace in which all persons have equal access to opportunities in the core public administration.
  • 3.2In addition to the expected results indicated in section 3 of the Policy on People Management, the expected results of this directive are as follows:
    • 3.2.1Candidates for employment and persons employed are treated with dignity and respect in an inclusive, barrier‑free environment;
    • 3.2.2When barriers cannot be removed, individuals are accommodated up to the point of undue hardship, taking into consideration issues of health, safety and cost; and
    • 3.2.3Accommodations are made based on the circumstances of each case while the individual’s right to privacy and confidentiality are respected.

4. Requirements

  • 4.1The head of human resources is responsible for the following:
    • 4.1.1Ensuring that candidates for employment and persons employed are informed of:
      • 4.1.1.1Their right to accommodation under the Canadian Human Rights Act; and
      • 4.1.1.2Any mandatory procedures to be followed when seeking an accommodation;
    • 4.1.2Ensuring that managers and supervisors are informed about their responsibilities and obligations with regard to:
      • 4.1.2.1Addressing individuals’ accommodation needs with regard to work‑related policies, practices, systems or procedures that exclude or hinder their full and equal participation in employment in the core public administration; and
      • 4.1.2.2The relevant confidentiality and privacy considerations.
  • 4.2Managers and supervisors are responsible for the following:
    • 4.2.1Maintaining the dignity and respect of persons employed by addressing their work‑related needs without resorting to a formal request for accommodation, to the extent reasonable;
    • 4.2.2Satisfying the employer’s legal obligation to accommodate an individual’s needs when they stem from one of the grounds prohibited by the Canadian Human Rights Act, up to the point of undue hardship and in a timely manner;
    • 4.2.3Providing persons employed with work‑related information, including on employment opportunities, in accessible formats;
    • 4.2.4Identifying the resources necessary to fulfill their duty to accommodate in their business and human resources plans;
    • 4.2.5Ensuring that accommodation arrangements are reviewed and updated at least annually;
    • 4.2.6Ensuring that persons employed are informed that they have a responsibility to respect the accommodation requirements and privacy of others;
    • 4.2.7Restricting access to any information about an individual’s request for accommodation to the people who have a need to know. The type of information required will depend on the specific facts of each case;
    • 4.2.8Retaining a written record of the accommodation in accordance with relevant information management requirements, when appropriate;
    • 4.2.9Ensuring that the needs of individuals who may require accommodation are taken into consideration when planning or designing work‑related processes, events or conferences; and
    • 4.2.10Consulting persons employed when there are changes to physical structures, systems or equipment so that the workplace remains barrier‑free.
  • 4.3Persons employed are responsible for the following:
    • 4.3.1Informing their manager of their functional limitations or their work‑related needs;
    • 4.3.2Providing their manager with the information necessary to identify appropriate accommodation, including information on relevant limitations and restrictions;
    • 4.3.3Cooperating and collaborating in good faith with their organization’s representative(s) to find one or more means to accommodate such needs, taking into consideration issues of health, safety and cost;
    • 4.3.4Notifying their manager if their accommodation needs change; and
    • 4.3.5Respecting the accommodation requirements and privacy of others.

5. Roles of other government organizations

  • 5.1This section identifies the roles of other key government organizations in relation to this directive. In and of itself, this section does not confer any authority.

Canadian Human Rights Commission

  • 5.2The Canadian Human Rights Commission is responsible for administering the Canadian Human Rights Act, including the process for handling complaints of discrimination under the prohibited grounds of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, marital status, family status, genetic characteristics, disability, and a conviction for an offence for which a pardon has been granted or in respect of which a record suspension has been ordered.

Human Rights Tribunal of Canada

  • 5.3The Human Rights Tribunal of Canada is responsible for adjudicating complaints referred to it by the Canadian Human Rights Commission, related to the prohibited grounds of discrimination.

Federal Public Sector Labour Relations and Employment Board

  • 5.4The Federal Public Sector Labour Relations and Employment Board is responsible for adjudicating labour relations complaints related to issues such as refusals of accommodation and situations in which employees believe that they have not received appropriate accommodation.

Public Service Commission of Canada

  • 5.5The Public Service Commission of Canada is responsible for the following:
    • 5.5.1Identifying and eliminating barriers in recruitment and staffing; and
    • 5.5.2Providing guidance on accommodation in staffing processes.

6. Application

  • 6.1This directive applies to the persons employed and the organizations listed in section 6 of the Policy on People Management.

7. References

8. Enquiries


Appendix: Mandatory Procedures for the Duty to Accommodate

A.1 Effective date

  • A.1.1These mandatory procedures take effect on April 1, 2020.

A.2 Procedures

  • A.2.1These mandatory procedures provide details on the requirements set out in section 4 of the Directive on the Duty to Accommodate.

    Candidates seeking employment

    • A.2.2With regard to subsection 4.2, the mandatory procedures for managers when dealing with candidates are as follows:
      • A.2.2.1If, after being informed of their right to accommodation under the Canadian Human Rights Act, a candidate identifies an accommodation need, clarify with the candidate the nature of the barrier and the associated implications;
      • A.2.2.2Obtain from the candidate the necessary information and documentation about any limitations or restrictions and, if applicable, any relevant professional assessments or recommendations;
      • A.2.2.3Consult appropriate subject matter experts with regard to the accommodation measure(s), if required;
      • A.2.2.4Inform the candidate about the proposed accommodation measure(s); and
      • A.2.2.5Retain a record of the accommodation requested and provided in the appropriate departmental records.

    Persons employed

    • A.2.3With regard to subsection 4.2, the mandatory procedures for managers of persons employed are as follows:
      • A.2.3.1If a person employed has indicated a work-related need, clarify the nature of the barrier and the associated implications with the person employed;
      • A.2.3.2Determine in consultation with the person employed whether the work-related need can be addressed without resorting to a formal request for accommodation, e.g., temporary change in hours of work, alternate work location, no costs associated with solution;
      • A.2.3.3Obtain from the person information and documentation about any limitations or restrictions and, if applicable, any relevant professional assessments or recommendations;
      • A.2.3.4Request additional information from the individual or obtain the individual’s consent prior to seeking information from a medical practitioner or other relevant third party, in support of a request for accommodation;
      • A.2.3.5Consult internal subject matter experts with regard to the accommodation measure(s), including any related implications (e.g., security, technology, financial), if required;
      • A.2.3.6Work with employee representatives when accommodation affects other individuals or if the person employed being accommodated requests that employee representatives be consulted;
      • A.2.3.7Inform the person about the proposed accommodation measure(s);
      • A.2.3.8Provide training to individuals who have been accommodated on the use of any adjusted equipment or systems;
      • A.2.3.9Communicate information about the accommodation with the individual’s colleagues only when necessary and only with the consent of the individual;
      • A.2.3.10Retain a record of the accommodation requested and provided in the appropriate departmental records; and
      • A.2.3.11Allow persons employed to retain technical aids, equipment and support materials if they move to another position in the core public administration and still require that accommodation.

© Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, represented by the President of the Treasury Board, 2020,
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