On February 1, 2017, the Ontario Human Rights Commission (the
"Commission") released a new policy statement on medical documentation and
disability-related accommodation requests.
Under the Ontario Human Rights Code (the
"Code"), employers have a legal duty to
accommodate the needs of people with disabilities who are adversely
affected by a work requirement or standard. Accommodation may mean
adapting rules or procedures in the workplace to ensure all
employees are able to participate and contribute. Accommodation can
also require changes to the physical environment to remove barriers
for people with disabilities.
The policy statement confirms the critical role of medical
professionals in the accommodation process. Both employers and
employees rely on physicians and other medical professionals to
provide timely information about an employee's functional needs
and limitations in the workplace.
The Commission's policy statement clarifies the type and
scope of medical information to be provided to support an
accommodation request. This information should include the
confirmation that the employee has a
the limitations or needs associated
with the disability;
whether the employee can perform the
essential duties or requirements of the job, with or without
the type of accommodation(s) that may
be needed to allow the employee to fulfill the essential duties or
requirements of the job; and
regular updates about when the
employee expects to return to work, if on leave.
In requesting medical documentation, employers must respect the
dignity and privacy of people with disabilities. The information
requested should be the least intrusive of the employee's
privacy, while still giving the organization enough information to
meaningfully assess the accommodation request.
Specifically, the Commission states that the employer does not
have the right to know a person's confidential medical
information, such as the cause of the disability, diagnosis,
symptoms or treatment, unless these clearly relate to the
accommodation being sought or if the employee's needs are
complex or unclear.
To implement appropriate accommodations while respecting the
employee's dignity and privacy, the policy statement emphasizes
that the focus always be on the functional limitations and work
restrictions associated with the disability, and not the
Employers with operations in Ontario must ensure that their
internal accommodation policies and procedures comply with these
policies on medical documentation and disability-related
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guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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On February 1, 2017, the Ontario Human Rights Commission released a policy statement that seeks to clarify the type and scope of the medical information that employees need to provide to their employers to support disability-related requests for accommodation.
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