Employer Forum Recap: Disability and Workplace Accommodation (Sept 2017)

As part of its commitment to supporting employers in their efforts to create healthy, thriving workplaces, Kent Employment Law introduced its Employer Forum series, an in-house resource for forward-thinking business owners and HR professionals. Offered in both Vancouver and Kelowna, these breakfast events are an opportunity for employers to learn from the experts and connect with their peers on topics ranging from hiring to firing.

Our most recent Vancouver Forum took place on September 26 and explored issues relating to disability and workplace accommodation. Host KEL lawyer Trevor Thomas welcomed speaker Lindi Frost, UBC’s Director of Employee Relations, who shared thoughtful, practical strategies for addressing the complex and sometimes sensitive challenges employers face when an employee is ill or injured. As always, Trevor gave his legal perspective and our guests came prepared with thought-provoking questions.

For those who weren’t able to join us, we asked Trevor to share some takeaways from the morning. Here are his top 3:

  1. Employers need to understand their obligations under the British Columbia Human Rights Code. This includes understanding the meaning of discrimination, when the duty to inquire arises, and to what extent the employer is required to accommodate an employee’s disability.
  2. Accommodation is a two-way street. While the employer is required to provide an accommodation to the point of undue hardship, the employee must also participate in the process. Participation includes being transparent about his or her needs and limitations and making a good faith effort in the accommodation process.
  3. An employee’s permanent disability may result in frustration of the employment contract. Frustration is a legal concept that, if supported by the evidence, results in the termination of the employment relationship without the need to provide notice or severance.

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