Job accommodation case study

Position Background:

Paul works as a Trainer for a local high-tech company. His primary role is designing and delivering workshops; training courses; webinars and on-line learning.  He also has a range of associated administrative tasks, including for example, needs assessments; identifying annual company-wide education requirements; coordinating enrolment; booking and setting up the training room; working with equipment; carrying out evaluations, and ensuring continuous learning throughout the company.

Employee Profile:

Paul has been off work recovering from an acquired brain injury over the past five months.  On the advice of his doctor, he is now preparing to return to work.

He has contacted his employer to request job accommodation.

Note: This step should happen pre-return to work.  

Employer Profile: 

Sandra is the HR Manager and is the designated person responsible for handling requests for job accommodation.  She received the call from Paul and has asked him to complete the form which officially requests job accommodation.

Paul confirmed that he would bring the form in when they meet.

Sandra asked what a good time would be for him to come into the office to discuss his request.  An in-person meeting has been set up.

At the Meeting:

Paul arrived for the meeting feeling somewhat uncertain about how the process was going to proceed.

Sandra observes that Paul seems to be nervous.  She does her best to put him at ease.
“It’s nice to see you Paul, how have things been going?  We miss you around here”

As they begin to talk about how things have been going, Paul’s apprehension lessens and he tells Sandra that he has brought the Return to Work Accommodation Request Form with him.

He hands the form to Sandra.

Next Steps:  

Sandra thanks Paul for taking the time to complete the form.

She has taken a copy of the company Workplace Accommodation Policy and suggests that they review the policy and procedures.

The policy is reviewed in full.

KEY: This step will provide Sandra with an opportunity to:

  • Affirm the company’s commitment to providing reasonable accommodation
  • Advise Paul about his rights & responsibilities and establish any expectations
  • Hear from Paul and understand his main interests as related to the policy
  • Identify and document any future action items

KEY: This step will provide Paul with an opportunity to:

  • Ask any questions he may have about the provisions in the policy
  • Clarify the process
  • Learn about the employer and employee rights and responsibilities moving forward
  • Reassure him about his rights with respect to privacy and confidentiality, and the treatment of any medical information provided

Along with reviewing the Workplace Accommodation policy, are there other policies available to Paul that will support him with his return to work? For example:

  • Vacation Time
  • Sick Leave
  • Leave Sharing
  • Income Replacement through group benefits
  • A gradual return-to-work program
  • Job-sharing options
  • Employee Assistance Program

Are there any benefits available on a flexible and coordinated basis that will allow Paul to re-enter the workplace on a gradual basis, on reduced hours while at the same time allow him to receive a combination of his salary and group benefits on a temporary basis?  Additionally, are there any government and/or any other income replacement benefits available to Paul?

Outcome of Accommodation Policy Review:

  • Paul feels supported in the initial stage of the process and understands that this will be a shared responsibility.
  • Sandra has communicated critical information to Paul and has established a strong foundation to work from going forward.
  • Respect and trust are developed.

With the above ground-work, Sandra and Paul will next review the request for accommodation.

Sandra tells Paul that they will be taking a fifteen-minute break.


Before beginning the review, Sandra checks-in with Paul.  She asks him how he is doing and whether he would like to schedule a follow-up meeting for the review.

KEY: This step will allow some time for Paul to digest what has been discussed.  It will also provide him an opportunity to assess his energy level and his cognitive ability to continue on with the meeting.

Accommodation Request Review:

As the review of the Request for Accommodation proceeds, it’s agreed that both will take notes to ensure that any key points and/or follow-up action are tracked, with a date assigned, and whose responsibility it will be.

Together, they review the information contained in Paul’s request

Preliminary Action & Discussion:

When reviewing the form, Sandra also does so with a view to establishing:

  • If there is any information missing
  • If additional medical proof might be required
  • If a Vocational Assessment has been provided/or is needed
  • Other Stakeholders that may need to be involved in the process
  • On first review, if the accommodation request appears to be reasonable
  • If there are any red-flags/considerations that need to be noted/addressed
  • Other that may come up during the course of the discussion
  • Follow-up action items


Paul and Sandra identify any stakeholders that may need to be involved.  These individuals will be brought into the discussions following the preliminary meeting to review the request, and be part of the return to work plan.  They may include for example:

  • Paul’s Manager
  • Colleagues currently covering Paul’s job responsibilities
  • Union Representation – if applicable
  • Health & Safety Coordinator – if applicable
  • Medical documentation and/or other expert opinion
  • Vocational Rehabilitation provider
  • Other as may be required

Immediate Objectives/Details Required:  

  • When will Paul be returning to work?
  • Over what time-frame can a return to work plan be developed?
  • Is it necessary for Paul to be on-site to work through the plan and/or discuss any accommodation modifications?  Can this be handled through e-mails; conference call; other?
  • Review of Paul’s job duties. Will Paul be able to fulfill the duties of his role un-aided? If not, the extent to which an accommodation will be implemented.  Note: this may include umbrella modifications, for example noise reduction overall, as well as any task-specific modifications that may require support.  
  • How will any modifications be determined? Does the company have an EAP with a Vocational Rehabilitation provider? Where can Vocational Rehabilitation Assessment services be sourced?
  • What modifications may need to be made to Paul’s workload immediately? Take into account for example: energy levels; cognitive output and ability to multi-task; time management; working environment and conditions.
  • How will the hours of work be assessed and agreed to?
  • Would it be helpful for the Manager and Paul to have a separate meeting to discuss expectations around performance goals and if there may need to be any modifications to the employee/manager relationship.
  • Have a back-up plan developed to avoid any business interruption that may occur as a result of any unanticipated situations.  These will typically occur in the earlier stages of the return to work process, yet depending on the disability, can also move into the mid to long-term stages as well.
  • Set up a trial period to experiment, and assess progress; needs and requirements.
  • How often do we want to check-in to assess and monitor progress and make any adjustments to the accommodations as may be required?
  • What might some beneficial accommodations be for Paul?