Request for Job Accommodation
- The employer should familiarize themselves with the Human Rights Legislation, Employment, and Accessibility Standards along with any other related laws that apply to their place of business and jurisdiction.
- Health & Safety are of paramount concern.
- Generally – the employee will request accommodation following a short or long-term disability based on the advice of a physician. An employee can seek temporary accommodation that lasts a few weeks to allow them to ease back into normal duties. Or, if this is a permanent disability, the employee could request assignment to a different job, where reasonable.
- The employer is entitled to receive sufficient notice to pursue accommodation assessment and in collaboration, set in place a proper return to work plan.
- Keep the timing of the accommodation review in mind. Once the request has been received, it’s important to keep the process moving forward.
- Be sure to maintain clear and accurate documentation through each step of the process including meeting dates; actions taken; dates agreed to; who will be involved; specific accommodation and any modifications provided; check-ins; concerns and solutions; assessment; progress and any adjustments where required. Overall, this will be a continuous process as the return to work unfolds.
- Documentation is a key factor in the return to work plan. Not only will it provide key information about the steps and actions being agreed to, it will also provide valuable tracking information to ensure that the process is moving in the right direction.
- Related to ABI and returning to work, ask the employee about the extent to which they would like to have the education and information provided to colleagues. When other staff members can support the employee with the return to work process, it will help them understand their colleague’s experiences and how the transition can be made smoother for them.
- It’s not always apparent at first what needs the employee will have. There may be a range of conditions that need to be addressed. For example a brain injury could affect the way someone interacts with others; relationships may be challenged in the beginning as colleagues find their way; cognitive skills may be affected and/or how someone concentrates, learns, processes, and remembers things may be altered.
- Remember that many job accommodations are inexpensive, or cost nothing at all. Job accommodation can be based on flexible and creative solutions including for example, flexible work schedules, a gradual return to work; extra breaks; job training. Some other examples may include:
- Time off for medical appointments
- Modified duties and responsibilities
- Transfer to another position
- Ergonomic assessment and modification of the work environment including larger or adapted screens; assistive devices, other as may be required.
- Special consideration should be given to those staff members who are currently fulfilling the job. As workload and schedules have changed within the department, so too have the day to day routines of those who have been assigned the work.
- It’s important to meet with the Manager and these employees separately with Paul to advise that you are developing a return to work plan. Their input and advice, along with the range of current projects and responsibilities being carried out will factor into the discussions.
Internal and External Colleagues & Other Staff-members:
Other groups to consider in the accommodation process are colleagues, other staff members and external clients. While they may be participating and/or observing how the process unfolds, at the same time they may also be wondering:
- What will this mean for me?
- How will this affect me?
- Is my workload going to increase?
- Will my responsibilities increase?
- Is it going to take longer to accomplish things now?
- What’s it going to be like for our work relationship?
- Will we be able to interact the same as before?
- I’m a bit nervous, I’m not really sure what to expect
- I don’t want to say or do the wrong thing
- Who would I speak to if I’m having a problem with this?
- Is there anything legal that I need to be aware of?
- From my end, what can I do to make this a smooth transition?
- Is there any information about brain injury that I can learn about beforehand?
It’s important to remember that workplace accommodation is for all. Yes, it’s for the employee returning to work. However the impacts of this can be far-reaching. Through open dialogue, and given that there are a range of shared interests throughout this process, any questions, concerns, or issues from colleagues and other staff members should be addressed.
It’s important to remind your employees about the company Workplace Accommodation Policy and as part of the return to work process, you will be discussing with the returning employee any options that may be available regarding training and education for others.
As the employer, you may wish to talk to your employee about hosting a lunch and learn series about Acquired Brain Injury. Individual staff members can also seek out supportive resources. Provincial and local brain injury associations are available across Canada and are ready to provide support, information, education, advocacy, and a variety of programs and services to those affected by an acquired brain injury. Connect with a brain injury association near you.