Understand Your Accommodation Obligations and Opportunities

As an employer, you have a legal obligation to ensure your organization provides reasonable accommodation to people in equality-seeking groups, such as those based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex (including pregnancy), sexual orientation, marital status, family status or disability.

However, accommodation isn’t only a legal requirement. It’s a good human resource practice that can enhance employee satisfaction, success on the job and, ultimately, success for the organizational as a whole.

Many organizations have formal accommodation policies to address the needs of their diverse workforce. However, even small organizations can take steps to meet the specific needs of your employees.

Accommodation Tips

Dietary: Provide alternatives for individuals whose religion or other imperative restricts them from eating meat.

Religious: Designate a private space within the workplace for personal activities, such as prayer. It’s a simple but important way of cultivating a culture of inclusion.

Training: Build cross-cultural competencies among management and staff. Mentoring is a good way to build these skills.

Demographics: Do you know the ethno-cultural makeup of your organization? Take steps to understand your employees. Then, consider how this knowledge is reflected in your policies, practices, customers, and environment.

Networking: Host a diversity networking event to provide participants and invited speakers with an opportunity to share personal experiences, career development advice, challenges and successes.

Environment: Create a welcoming environment by connecting skilled immigrant employees with people and programs providing settlement help. This can strengthen their likelihood of staying. This is particularly important in smaller communities with fewer immigrants and support networks.

Dialogue: To understand what is reasonable in terms of religious and cultural accommodation, establish relationships with your local religious and cultural centres for an open dialogue on customs and their importance.

Additional Resources

  • Religious Accommodation Webinar: Religious accommodation is an important topic for anyone with HR responsibilities. Learn what you need to know about reasonable accommodation and listen as lawyer Sandeep Tatla explains how you can use a Religious Accommodation Checklist.
  • Duty to Accommodate: The Canadian Human Rights Commission has a variety of resources on the duty to accommodate, including guides, fact sheets and frequently asked questions.
  • Creating an Inclusive Workplace: This guide from the Canadian Human Rights Commission will help you understand your legal obligations and create workplace accommodation policies and procedures.
  • Sample Accommodation Policy: Tyco’s accommodation policy can be adapted to suit your organization’s needs.