Return to work definitions

Human Rights Legislation: Individuals have the right to be treated fairly in workplaces free from discrimination, and our country has laws and programs to protect this right.  Human rights legislation exists in every province, territory and in the federal jurisdiction.

In general, both federal and provincial human rights law prohibits discrimination in all aspects of employment.

Protected Ground: In general, Human Rights in Canada prohibit actions that discriminate against people based on a protected ground in a protected social area. Some examples of a protected ground include gender; citizenship; age; marital status; place of origin and disability.

Some examples of a protected social area include services; facilities; housing and employment.

Disability is a protected ground and employment is a protected social area. It’s important to note that grounds of discrimination vary slightly depending on the jurisdiction. The current human rights legislation for your location and the business you work in should be checked.

Disability: Defining disability is a complex, evolving matter. The term “disability” covers a broad range and degree of conditions. A disability means any degree of physical disability or mental disability, regardless of cause or duration.  A basic definition of disability includes conditions that have developed over time, those that result from an accident, or have been present from birth.  It can be permanent, temporary or episodic, and includes physical, mental and learning disabilities.  Disability can steadily worsen, remain the same, or improve.  A disability can be visible or invisible.

Episodic Disability: Episodic disabilities are conditions that are characterized by periods of good health interrupted by periods of illness or disability. These periods may vary in severity, length and predictability from one person to another.
Episodic disabilities are periodic – the episodes of illness come and go – but because they are also unpredictable, they can often lead to intermittent work capacity and require additional planning with regard to employment.

Invisible Disability: Disabilities can come in many different forms.  An invisible disability is just as life-affecting as a visible one.  However they’re not as talked about and as easily understood. An invisible disability is a disability that is not immediately noticeable. They can include brain injuries, chronic pain, mental illness, gastro-intestinal disorders, and many more. Because they’re not obvious to spot, invisible disabilities may be overlooked and misunderstood. Unfortunately, this can lead to discrimination or exclusion of those with a non-visible disability.

Discrimination: Discrimination is an action or a decision that treats a person or a group unequally and unfairly for reasons based on their actual or perceived association and/or belonging to a certain group or social category.  Discrimination restricts members of one group from opportunities or privileges that are available to another group, leading to the exclusion of the individual.

The practice or policy of providing equal access to opportunities and resources for people who might otherwise be excluded or marginalized, such as those who have a disability.

Employment and Accessibility: Accessibility is about creating communities, workplaces and services that enable everyone to participate fully in society without barriers. The Government of Canada and many provinces and territories are currently working towards making Canada a more inclusive, barrier-free country.

Provinces including Ontario, Manitoba, Nova Scotia and British Columbia have put laws and legislation in place that include standards and mandatory compliance dates and many provinces are planning to enact their own accessibility legislation in the up-coming years.
In recent years, most recently in May of 2019, disability-specific laws have been emerging to make it clearer what needs to be done to ensure that people with disabilities are not treated unfairly.

Job Accommodation and Duty to Accommodate: Job accommodation is a way of helping employees work more effectively by overcoming limitations caused by a disability.  Usually, accommodations are easy to implement, inexpensive, and demonstrate a commitment to a healthier, more equitable workplace.

Employers have a duty to accommodate employees with a disability, to the point of undue hardship.

Depending on the jurisdiction of your place of employment, the duty to accommodate will be regulated either by Federal, Provincial or Territorial legislation.

Employment Law : Employment law in Canada generally refers to the law governing the relationship of an individual employee to an employer. It is concerned mainly with wrongful dismissal, and it deals with minimum labour standards, human rights, occupational health and safety and workers’ compensation.

Most workers in Canada – about 90 percent – are protected by the employment laws of their province or territory. The other 10% of Canadian employees work in places that are federally regulated.   If so, your employment is governed by the Canada Labour Code.

Labour Law:Labour Law is the law of unionized collective bargaining relationships.

Employment Standards: Hours of work, minimum wages, sick days, vacation and severance provisions as well as many more, are covered by Employment Standards. These are the minimum standards established by law that define and guarantee rights in the workplace.

Federally regulated businesses are governed by Federal Labour Standards while other businesses are governed by provincial and territorial standards.

Employment Contract: An employment contract is a written legal document that sets out binding terms and conditions of an employment relationship between an employee and an employer.

Workplace Policies : A workplace policy is a formal policy which is instituted by the management or owners of a business. Workplace policies should be clearly written up in employee handbooks, a personnel manual or by providing notices.

An employee may be required to sign a document indicating that they have received and read through the policy and that they understand and accept it.
A set of policies are principles, rules, and guidelines formulated and adopted by an organization to reach its long-term goals and typically is a published document and/or is in some other format that is widely accessible.

Policies and procedures are designed to influence and determine all major decisions and actions, and all activities take place within the boundaries set by them.

Procedures are the specific methods employed to express policies in action in day-to-day operations of the organization.