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Disability Accommodation Policy

 

PREAMBLE

The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador is committed to having a diverse and inclusive workforce where employees have equal and fair opportunity to participate, contribute, and advance in the workplace. This commitment stems from the desire to ensure a strong, dedicated, and engaged public service.

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POLICY STATEMENT

The employer will make every reasonable effort, up to the point of undue hardship, to accommodate an employee's disability-related employment needs. The accommodation process is applied on an individualized basis. Successful implementation of the duty to accommodate requires the cooperation and participation of employees, departments, and unions.

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APPLICATION

This Policy applies to all employees of Government departments.

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DEFINITIONS

Accommodation:
A temporary or permanent adjustment to working conditions, work assignments, policies, rules, practices, programs, or the physical work environment to address an employee's current or potential employment needs arising from a disability which is supported by medical documentation. An accommodation may include providing services, adaptations, adjustments, modifying duties, or job transfers that enable individuals who meet job qualifications to participate in employment and employment-related activities.

Accommodation Seeker:
An employee who requires a disability-related workplace accommodation.

Bona Fide Occupational Requirement (BFOR):
A standard that is integral in carrying out the functions of a specific position. For a standard to be considered a BFOR, an employer has to establish that any accommodation or changes to the standard would create undue hardship.

Designated Human Resource (HR) Representative:
An employee within a Strategic Human Resource Management (SHRM) Division chosen by the Director of that Division to coordinate/lead the accommodation process.

Discrimination:
The refusal to employ or continue to employ a person, or to intentionally or unintentionally deny a right, benefit, or opportunity to a person based on a disability.

Employee:
An individual employed by a Government department with permanent, temporary, seasonal, casual, full-time, part-time, or contractual employment status.

Employer:
The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, as represented by Treasury Board, is the employer. Treasury Board is the committee of the Executive Council responsible for all matters relating to human resource management in the public service.

Medical Documentation:
Written information relevant to the employee's job duties, including functional limitations and abilities arising from a disability diagnosed by an appropriate registered medical practitioner as defined in the Medical Act, 2011. Medical documentation may include information obtained from another appropriate health care provider.

Persons with Disabilities:
Persons who have a temporary, long term, or permanent condition, illness, or injury of a physical, mental, developmental, sensory, psychiatric, or learning nature which causes a functional limitation in the workplace and who consider themselves to be disadvantaged in employment due to their disability or believe that the employer likely would consider them disadvantaged in employment due to their disability. A temporary illness, such as a cold or flu, is not a disability.

Reasonable Accommodation:
The requirement upon the employer to accommodate, up to the point of undue hardship, an employee's disability-related employment needs.

Undue Hardship:
The limits of reasonable accommodation beyond which the employer does not have a duty to accommodate. The word “undue” implies that the employer may be expected to bear some hardship in fulfilling the duty to accommodate. Undue hardship is assessed on a case by case basis, considering various factors relating to the situation, including but not limited to health and safety risk; impact on a collective agreement or other contract; legitimate operational requirements and disruption to the public; impact on rights of others; interchangeability of the workforce and job duties; workplace size; and the type of work.

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ROLES AND ACCOUNTABILITIES

Departments
It is the responsibility of Deputy Ministers or their delegates to:

  • Ensure the fulfillment of the employer's obligation to accommodate, up to the point of undue hardship, an employee's disability-related accommodation needs.
  • Approve and authorize implementation of accommodation plans, including anticipated accommodation related expenses.
  • Deputy Ministers will determine, in consultation with the Department of Justice and Human Resource Secretariat (HRS), whether an accommodation would result in undue hardship.

Strategic Human Resource Management (SHRM) Divisions
It is the responsibility of SHRM Divisions to:

  • Implement, communicate, support, monitor, document, and consistently apply the Disability Accommodation Policy and process.
  • Provide leadership, advice, and support to departments, the accommodation seeker, and the accommodation seeker's immediate supervisor/manager.
  • Coordinate/lead the accommodation planning process and work with stakeholders.
  • Collect medical documentation from the accommodation seeker.
  • Act as the office of primary responsibility for accommodation related files and records, in accordance with the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act and the Management of Information Act.

Immediate Supervisors/Managers
It is the responsibility of immediate supervisors/managers to:

  • Proactively participate in and support accommodation planning and implementation.
  • Work and consult with the SHRM Division providing updates to the Division, and monitor and document accommodation efforts.
  • Consult with the SHRM Division when it is believed that an employee may require an accommodation, but has not requested one.

Accommodation Seeker
It is the responsibility of an employee seeking an accommodation to:

  • Submit an accommodation request to his/her immediate supervisor/manager and/or the Director of the SHRM Division, regarding his/her workplace accommodation needs. A bargaining unit employee is encouraged to engage his/her union representative.
  • Cooperate and participate in accommodation planning and implementation, which includes providing information and medical documentation, examining accommodation options, and accepting reasonable accommodations.
  • When moving to a new position, inform the new immediate supervisor/manager and/or SHRM Director of the existing accommodation plan and any accommodation needs in the new position.

Human Resource Secretariat (HRS)
It is the responsibility of the HRS to:

  • Advise departments on the interpretation and application of this Policy.
  • Assist departments in determining whether an accommodation would result in undue hardship and advise and provide assistance, as necessary, on other related matters.

Public Service Commission (PSC)
It is the responsibility of the PSC, Strategic Staffing Division to:

  • Provide information required by the employer, such as a list of vacant positions, to facilitate a disability-related accommodation as requested by the SHRM Division or the HRS.

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CONFIDENTIALITY

An accommodation seeker acknowledges that in order to develop and implement a workplace accommodation certain personal information, including medical documentation or records, needs to be shared with employer representatives or agents.

All accommodation information is to be safeguarded and treated as confidential. The information is to be used only for the purpose for which it was collected and every person with access to the information is responsible for maintaining confidentiality. In cases where it is necessary to share information in order to implement an accommodation, such information will only be shared with those people directly involved in the accommodation process. Further, they will receive only the information required to fulfill the purpose for which it was requested.

If a request for information is received, information will be released in accordance with the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act. Information will also be released as required by judicial or quasi-judicial proceedings.

Records related to an accommodation request shall not be stored in the employee's personal file. If an employee has been accommodated in his/her current position and he/she is moving to a new position, his/her current supervisor/manager shall notify the Director of the SHRM Division of the employee's move. If the new position is covered by a different SHRM Division, the Director will transfer the accommodation file to the new SHRM Division.

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ACCOMMODATION PROCESS

A general overview of the accommodation process is:

STEP 1: Receive Accommodation Request and Gather Information – An accommodation seeker shall submit an accommodation request to his/her immediate supervisor/manager and/or to the Director of the SHRM Division. If the request is only sent to the immediate supervisor/manager, this individual shall forward it to the Director of the SHRM Division. The designated HR representative and/or the immediate supervisor/manager will hold a meeting with the employee to begin the process of gathering information. An accommodation seeker shall provide relevant information, including medical documentation, to support his/her accommodation request. A bargaining unit employee is encouraged to engage his/her union representative.

STEP 2: Analyze Accommodation Request – The designated HR representative, in discussions with the immediate supervisor/manager, will consider the request. The designated HR representative will request and collect medical documentation from the accommodation seeker and determine whether the reason for the request is related to a disability. The accommodation seeker is required to provide medical documentation from an appropriate registered medical practitioner(s) which may include information obtained from another appropriate health care provider to assist the employer in fulfilling the accommodation request.

STEP 3: Develop Accommodation Plan – The designated HR representative will consider, in consultation with relevant partners, reasonable accommodation options and work with the accommodation seeker, the accommodation seeker's immediate supervisor/manager, and/or other departmental representatives to develop a plan to accommodate the employee. In some cases, a workplace accommodation may present undue hardship and will therefore not be available to the accommodation seeker. If this occurs, the accommodation seeker will be advised of such and other possible accommodation options, if available, will be considered.

STEP 4: Implement Accommodation Plan – A reasonable accommodation option(s) is selected and implemented with the support of relevant partners.

STEP 5: Follow-up, Review, and Adjust – The implemented accommodation is evaluated and monitored, typically by the immediate supervisor/manager with the assistance of the designated HR representative. An accommodation must meet the needs of the employee as well as meet the operational and other requirements of the department. The accommodation will be adjusted or removed if necessary.

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REQUEST FOR ACCOMMODATION REVIEW

Bargaining unit employees shall follow the grievance process outlined in their collective agreements.

In the case of management and non-management non-bargaining unit employees, if a dispute arises and the accommodation seeker wishes to have a decision related to an accommodation reviewed, the Management Dispute Resolution Policy shall apply. Level Two of the dispute resolution process entails a review by the SHRM Division. If the Director of the SHRM Division or the accommodation seeker feels it would be more appropriate for another SHRM Division to review the dispute, due to a conflict of interest or perception of bias, the Deputy Minister shall assign the file to an alternate Director of SHRM for review.

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Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act
Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
Employee Assistance Program
Harassment and Discrimination-Free Workplace Policy
Management Dispute Resolution Policy
Management of Information Act
Medical Act, 2011
Newfoundland and Labrador Human Rights Act, 2010
Occupational Health and Safety Act
Respectful Workplace Program

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Last Policy Update: January 1, 2012

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Last Updated:
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