Mental health and the duty to accommodate
The “duty to accommodate” is a legal right, under the Human Rights Code. Mental illnesses fall under the protected grounds as a disability. If a worker living with a mental illness has a limitation that prevents them from performing essential duties of their job, they have a legal right to accommodation. These limitations can be permanent, temporary, or episodic. The degree varies among individuals. Ideally, employers will accommodate workers before a health crisis happens, by taking steps to create a psychologically healthy and safe workplace.
Accommodating a worker who is living with a mental illness works the same way as accommodating someone for a physical limitation:
- The employer, the union and the individual are all be involved in designing the accommodation.
- Supervisors and co-workers support a worker who is being accommodated.
- Steps should be taken to ensure that the workplace is free from harassment and other pressures that will delay recovery.
Examples of accommodations
- Flexible scheduling, start times, end times.
- More frequent breaks.
- Changes in supervision – either the supervisor or the way direction is given.
- More time for training, or individualized training.
- Equipment – different light, headphones, audio recorder.
- Change in location.
- Allowing worker to work at home.
- Negotiating a unique job description.
- Daily check-in with an agreed upon co-worker.
Duty to accommodate process
Source: CUPE National