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I have to take care of my child. Does my employer have to accommodate me?

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I have to take care of my child. Does my employer have to accommodate me?
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Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC)

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I have to take care of my child. Does my employer have to accommodate me?
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Reviewed: 
October 31, 2017
Answer

Most employers have rules that apply to everyone in the workplace equally. Some examples are employees' work hours, or rules about taking a vacation. There might be other rules about your specific job - for example, that you must do your job at a certain location.

Ontario's human rights laws say that everyone has the right to be treated equally and not be discriminated against at work. This means that your employer must do what they can to make things fair for you

These laws also say that you should not face barriers in the workplace because you are caring for a child or an aging relative. This is called "Family Status" protection.

Employers cannot treat employees differently because of "Family Status." But if you can't follow a workplace rule because of your Family Status, employers may have to change how the rule or requirement applies to you. The legal word for this is accommodation.

Accommodation can be different for different people. In each case, it depends on what you need. For example, your employer might let you:

  • take a leave of absence to care for your sick child
  • adjust your schedule or your work hours for a period of time while you care for your child
  • work at a different location, if your employer has that option

If you need accommodation because of your childcare responsibilities, ask for it. Your employer has to try to make things fair for you.

And you must co-operate with your employer to find solutions and agree on what is reasonable for them to do.

Accommodation does not have to be exactly what you asked for but it does have to be appropriate. Accommodation is appropriate if:

  • it gives you an equal chance to enjoy the same level of benefits and privileges as others, and
  • it meets your individual needs.

In this situation, the accommodation should allow you to work and perform your childcare responsibilities.

If your employer does not accommodate you, this might be considered "Family Status" discrimination. But it is not discrimination if they can prove that accommodating you would cause them undue hardship.

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