Accommodation for Employees with Disabilities Procedure (temporary and permanent, work/non-work related)

Approved by:  AVP HR

Approved on:  October 23, 2015


Lakehead University is committed to providing an accessible learning, working, and living environment.   This procedural document is intended to provide guidance in implementing accommodation for Employees with Disabilities and providing reasonable accommodations on an individualized basis. The University will work to achieve reasonable accommodation for employees subject to bona fide occupational requirements, and the limits of undue hardship.



1. To provide individualized accommodation for employees with disabilities.

2. To outline the roles and responsibilities of individuals in the accommodation                           process.

3. To outline the steps involved in developing individualized accommodation plans for employees with disabilities.

This document is available in alternate format on request.



Disability:  is defined by the Human Rights Code as follows:

(a) any degree of physical disability, infirmity, malformation or disfigurement that is caused by bodily injury, birth defects or illness and, without limiting generality of the foregoing, includes diabetes mellitus, epilepsy, a brain injury, any degree of paralysis, amputation, lack of physical co-ordination, blindness or visual impediment, deafness or hearing impediment, muteness or speech impediment, or physical reliance on a guide dog or other animal or on a wheelchair or other remedial appliance or device,

(b) a condition of mental impairment or a developmental disability,

(c) a learning disability, or a dysfunctional in one or more of the processes involved in understanding or using symbols or spoken language,

(d) a mental disorder, or

(e) an injury or disability for which benefits were claimed or received under the insurance plan established under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997.


Reasonable Accommodation:  for the purpose of this procedure, is an individualized process which, to the point of undue hardship, involves the removal or alleviation of barriers that prevent an individual from participating equally in the workplace because of a disability.


Undue Hardship:  the point at which, having regard to all of the relevant circumstances, providing an employee with accommodation is outweighed by financial and/or institutional costs, the impact on other employees, health and safety consideration and/or other relevant factors involved in providing accommodation.





1.  General Considerations

1.1. The duty to accommodate is a multi-party obligation, including management, respective unions and the employee. All parties must work together to identify, implement and support reasonable accommodation. All parties must follow a proper process in every case to ensure compliance with the Human Rights Code.

1.2. Each employee who requires workplace accommodation for a disability will be considered individually and on a case-by-case basis. In order to ensure that requests are effectively dealt with, there may be some variations in the extent to which each step outlined in this procedure is applied.

1.3.   The principles of dignity, individualization, inclusion and full participation are to be applied throughout the entire accommodation process.


2.  Request for Accommodation


2.1.  An employee may request an accommodation at any time by notifying her/his manager and Human Resources that due to an illness or disability, s/he cannot perform the essential duties of her/his job and that s/he is requesting an individual accommodation plan.

2.2. For employee returning to work after an illness or injury, the request for an accommodation must occur prior to the employee returning to the workplace and is covered by Lakehead University’s RTW procedure.

2.3. Accommodation requests shall be made in writing to the employee’s manager or Human Resources, Health and Safety. If requested, the employee may provide her/his accommodation request in an alternate format that takes into account her/his accommodation needs.

2.4.  In the event that an accommodation request is denied, the employee will be provided with written documentation of the reasons for the denial.  These reasons will be also be provided in alternate format upon request.

2.5 The denial of accommodation request may be appealed, in writing, within 10 working days to the Associate Vice-President of Human Resources or designate.  The Associate Vice-President or designate shall make a final decision as soon as reasonably possible.


3.  Medical Documentation


3.1  The request for accommodation must be supported by appropriate medical documentation.  An accommodation will not be put in place until the University has received medical documentation.  The documentation must;

  • confirm a disability that prevents the employee from performing all duties of his/her current job
  • outline the specific restrictions and limitations that need to be accommodated
  • the duration of the accommodation

3.2  All medical documentation shall be send directly to Human Resources.  All such documents will be stored in Human Resources and treated with the strictest confidence.

3.3  In some cases additional medical documentation may be required.  In such situations, Human Resources will request a report from the employee’s doctor, medical specialist or other health care provider.  Where such requests result in insufficient information to determine appropriate accommodations measures, the University will require the employee to undergo an independent medical examination.  The employee will be requested to sign a consent document to permit release of information to Human Resources.  The costs associated with obtaining additional medical documentation will be covered by the University.

3.4  Human Resources will review the information in the medical documents received, and will only communicate non-confidential information (e.g. functional abilities, limitations or restrictions, prognosis, and anticipated duration of accommodation) to the employee’s supervisor.  No confidential information will be shared without prior written consent of the employee.


4. Responsibilities


4.1  Employee’s Responsibilities

  • Notify her/his Manager that the employee is requesting accommodation in order to perform the essential duties of her/his job.
  • Provide relevant medical documentation confirming the disability and outlining any restrictions/limitations that need to accommodate.
  • Participate and cooperate in the development of the accommodation plan.
  • Request the attendance of Union Representative, if desired.
  • Provide updated medical documentation as restriction and/or abilities change, or as requested by Lakehead University.
  • Participate in any future reviews and updates.

4.2 Manager’s Responsibilities

  • Notify Human Resources of an employee’s request for accommodation.
  • Participate and cooperate in the development of the accommodation plan.
  • Monitor and evaluate the accommodation plan.
  • Maintain confidentiality of all employee information.  Any disclosure of information must be accompanied by a written consent from the employee.
  • Review the accommodation plan in consultation with Human Resources and the employee, to update and revise as needed.

4.3 Human Resources Responsibilities

  • Assist in the development of an in individual accommodation plan.
  • Request the employee to be evaluated by a medical or other expert, at the employer’s expense, if required to assist in determining the accommodation.
  • Maintain confidentiality of all employee medical information, unless written consent is obtained from the employee or disclosure is necessary in order to achieve the accommodation, in which case the employee should be consulted first.
  • Review the accommodation plan in consultation with the Manager and the employee, to update and revise as needed.
  • Provide accommodation plan in an alternate format, if requested

4.4  Union Representative Responsibilities

  • In cases where an accommodation may impact the rights of other employees in the bargaining unit or requires a waiver or variation of any provision of the collective agreement, the employee’s union must be involved
  • The union representative will assist the employee in understanding the accommodation process, and attend all meetings with the employee to discuss accommodation.


Accommodation Process:

Accommodation requests are often received by Human Resources or the employee’s supervisor.  A supervisor may choose to develop the accommodation plan with minimal assistance from Human Resources, however all accommodation plans should be confirmed with Human Resources.

Once a request for accommodation is received, the employee will be required to provide appropriate and current medical documentation as per Section 3 of this procedure. Human Resources will review the medical documentation to ensure information provided is adequate, and will request additional medical information if needed.  The supervisor will be informed about the employee’s restrictions, limitation and accommodation needs.

The employee should be encouraged to contact his/her union representative to participate in the accommodation process.

The supervisor, in consultation with the employee and Human Resources, will make every reasonable effort to identify appropriate accommodation measures that will enable the employee to fulfill the essential duties of his/her job. In many cases, the accommodation will involve the employee staying in his/her pre-disability position with some modifications.

An accommodation meeting involving all parties shall be held to discuss the restrictions and limitations, the accommodation options, the duration of the accommodation, and any other issues that may impact the success of the accommodation, as well as to cooperatively develop an accommodation plan.

In cases where the employees may not be accommodated in his/her pre-disability position.  The University may be able to accommodate the employee in another position.  In order to determine if this is a viable option, Human Resources will work with the employee and the union/association to identify any positions currently available where there appears to be a match between the employee’s qualifications, accommodation needs and the position requirements. The employee must be qualified and able to fulfill the essential duties of the new and available position. Human Resources will facilitate an assessment meeting between the manager of the new position, the employee and union/association.

The University does not have to create a new position for the employee.

If an agreement is reached, a written accommodation plan should be developed by the supervisor and be signed by all parties. An Individual Accommodation template is included in Appendix A.  The Office of Human Resources can assist in drafting the accommodation plan.  It is important to record the accommodation plan to avoid any misunderstandings.

The supervisor, with the cooperation from the employee, is responsible for implementing the measures outlined in the accommodation plan.  Human Resources can assist where required.




When an accommodation is completed an ongoing monitoring or reassessment is best done by having periodic accommodation meeting as often as it is felt it is necessary.  Any party can request a meeting at any time. The department or the employee can contact Human Resources if they believe that there are ongoing concerns, or if restrictions/limitations have changed.  Human Resources may request updated medical on a periodic basis to support ongoing accommodation request or if new limitations/restrictions are needed.

This policy and procedure is subject to, and shall be applied in accordance with all applicable collective agreements and current legislation.



Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA 2005)

Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, 1990

Lakehead University Occupational Health and Safety Policy

Ontario Human Rights Code (1962)

Occupational Health and Safety Act of Ontario, 1990

Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997



Appendix A.  Individual Accommodation Plan (Template)