The purpose of this policy is to:
• Provide a clear statement of the obligations and responsibilities that are inherent in the University accommodation process, and
• Provide guidance and standards for the implementation of this policy.
Within the guidelines of the Ontario Human Rights Code and up to the point of undue hardship, the University is committed to:
• Ensuring that each person with a disability will be considered individually, on a case-by-case basis, in order to determine accommodation requirements;
• Achieving a culture and work environment that is supportive of employees with disabilities;
• Ensuring compliance with all applicable legislation, collective agreement provisions and University policy;
• Establishing an efficient accommodation process that is consistent with principles of confidentiality and shared responsibility;
• Clarifying roles and accountabilities within the Ryerson community for the accommodation process.
The fundamental principles underlying this policy include:
• Shared accountability and responsibility including a partnership between the individual requiring accommodation, supervisors, senior management, employee groups, and the University;
• Respect for the dignity of the individual by ensuring that accommodation is provided that meets specific circumstances, while at the same time working to ensure general accessibility for all employees in terms of spatial and physical requirements;
• Consultation involving only relevant stakeholders in development of the accommodation plan;
• Inclusion by ensuring that the person to be accommodated is involved in the process and plan design; and,
• Respect for confidentiality.
Specific principles that form the foundation of this policy include:
• The principle of shared accountability forms the foundation of the Central Employment Accommodation Fund (CEAF). Departments are responsible for expenses up to a maximum of $500.00 per employee, per year. Expenses over this amount will be funded through the CEAF.
• Prior to any request for funds being made to the CEAF, managers shall explore alternative sources of funding (e.g. Workers Compensation Board, Ontario Assistive Devices Program, etc.). The Employment Equity Office shall provide support to managers as requested.
• Accommodation includes and integrates persons with disabilities into employment activities in a manner that respects their dignity, autonomy and self-esteem. Managers shall ensure that individuals are not in any way disadvantaged because they have sought or require accommodation.
• The need to consult with appropriate medical and/or disability specialists in order to validate medical and/or disability information, determine individual accommodation requirements and consult on specific accommodation issues is recognized in this policy.
Application and Scope
The policy applies to any Ryerson employee with a disability, and to job applicants that may require accommodation during the selection process at Ryerson.
Statutory definitions, as set out in the Ontario Human Rights Code, R.S.O. 1990, Chapter H.19 can be found at http://www.ohrc.on.ca/english/code/hr-code.pdf.
Accommodation: Accommodation is an adaptation or adjustment made to enable a person with a disability to perform the essential duties or requirements of the position. The requirement, qualification or factor must be reasonable and bona-fide in the circumstances. Accommodation may include, but is not limited to:
• Human support services such as sign language interpreters, readers, etc.
• Technical aids and devices and adaptive technologies
• Workstation and/or minor office modifications
• Job redesign
• Reassignments and alternative jobs
• Flexible or alternative work schedules
• Temporary rehabilitative assignments
Undue Hardship: The Ontario Human Rights Code prescribes three considerations in assessing whether an accommodation could cause undue hardship: Cost, Outside Sources of Funding and Health and Safety Considerations. Information on the concept of undue hardship can be accessed on the Ontario Human Rights Commission website at: http://www.ohrc.on.ca/english/publications/disability-policy-fact4.shtml.
Note: Budgetary restrictions cannot be assumed to be a barrier to accommodation. If the costs of providing necessary accommodations are an issue please consult with your Human Resources Consultant.
Confidentiality of Information
Personal information concerning an employee’s disability cannot be released without the prior written consent of the individual and must be managed in a manner that is consistent with Freedom of Information Guidelines and Personal Information Protection Guidelines, where appropriate. In order to facilitate the accommodation process, employees/applicants will not unreasonably withhold such information. Where the accommodation process requires the release of confidential information to a third party (such as an external resource group), the third party, and any person or department delegated by that third party, will be required to ensure that confidentiality is protected, that the information obtained is kept in a secure location, and used solely for the purpose that the release was required.
Roles and Responsibilities
All members of the Ryerson community are responsible for providing visible support and commitment to this policy and its objectives and principles. Supervisors, managers, chairs, directors, deans, and the senior executive recognize that they bear special responsibility in ensuring that their actions are in compliance with the policy and the legislated requirements of the Ontario Human Rights Code and the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act.
A manager is interpreted under this policy as an individual who has full supervisory responsibility for an employee, or is responsible for making hiring decisions. This may include executives, chairs, directors, deans, managers and supervisors, as applicable. When a manager is approached relative to a request for accommodation, she or he has the responsibility to respond to the request within ten working days by proceeding in one of the following directions:
a. Work toward resolving the accommodation request independently but advising either the Human Resources Consultant or the Employment Equity Office of the accommodation issue and keeping them appropriately informed, or
b. Forward the issue to the Human Resources Consultant and/or the Employment Equity Office for support in addressing the accommodation request.
Failure by a manager to respond to an accommodation issue within 10 working days will provide an employee recourse to the appropriate senior director or dean. There must be a general commitment by all managers and supervisors to addressing accommodation issues as expediently as possible.
Refer to the Accommodation Procedure included in this document for more detailed information on the accommodation process.
Managers are also accountable for:
• Ensuring the policy is consistently and fairly applied in their area of responsibility;
• Accepting the employee’s request for accommodation in good faith, unless there are legitimate reasons for acting otherwise;
• Obtaining expert opinion or advice in conjunction with Human Resources, where needed;
• Keeping a record of the accommodation request and action taken, and ensuring that appropriate confidentiality is maintained;
• Working in partnership with the individual, the Human Resources Consultant, the Employment Equity Office, and any internal or external resources that are utilized, to identify and implement accommodation requirements;
• Providing accommodation to the extent it does not cause undue hardship;
• Implementing and overseeing accommodations within their work unit, facilitating the integration of the employee being accommodated, and ensuring a supportive work environment.
2. Person with a Disability
Employees requesting accommodation are responsible for:
• Advising the supervisor of the need for accommodation and making her or his needs known to the best of his or her ability, preferably in writing, in order that they may act upon the accommodation request;
• Answering questions or providing information regarding relevant restrictions or limitations, including information from health care providers, where appropriate, and as needed;
• Participating in discussions regarding possible accommodation solutions, and co-operating with any experts whose assistance is required to manage the accommodation process;
• Working with the supervisor to ensure that performance and job standards are feasible and appropriate based on the disability and the bona-fide requirements of the position;
• Complying with the accommodation plan;
• Advising manager immediately of any change in circumstance that affects the accommodation plan.
Job applicants who apply for positions at Ryerson are eligible for accommodation under this process. Job applicants are responsible for advising the hiring manager, a member of the selection committee or Human Resources of any accommodations that may be required in the selection process. The University is committed to ensuring that job applicants are only asked to respond to questions during the selection process that relate to their skills, abilities and qualifications for the position.
3. Human Resources
Human Resources is responsible for:
• Ensuring the policy is interpreted and applied to promote the University’s interest in supporting a safe and productive work environment for all employees;
• Maintaining confidential information as required under this policy and ensuring it is managed in a manner that is consistent with Freedom of Information Guidelines and Personal Information Protection Guidelines, where appropriate.
Specific accountabilities within Human Resources include the following:
a. Employment Equity Office (EEO): The EEO will provide a centralized coordinating function in terms of resolving, tracking and monitoring all employee accommodation issues within the Ryerson community and is available throughout the accommodation process as a resource. The EEO is also responsible for:
• Implementing and making recommendations on all issues relating to the operation and maintenance of the Central Employment Accommodation Fund (CEAF);
• Providing information and assistance in identifying external funding that may be available and appropriate resources that may be used at any stage of the accommodation process;
• Tracking and maintaining statistics on accommodation, including reports and statistics on the types and costs of accommodations made (without identifying individuals);
• Referring issues appropriately to the Executive Director, Human Resources.
b. Human Resources Consultant
• Providing front-line support to employees and managers on accommodation issues;
• Ensuring that the needs of persons with disabilities are addressed in the recruitment and selection process;
• Ensuring adherence to all legislative and collective agreement obligations;
• Liaising directly with appropriate internal resources, including the Access Centre, the Office of Discrimination and Harassment Prevention Services, and the Employment Equity Office as well as managers and individual applicants or employees.
4. Senior Management and Executive
• The Executive Director of Human Resources assumes overall accountability for the interpretation and application of this policy, including: overall financial accountability for the CEAF, facilitating the resolutions of disputes concerning accommodation and ensuring that appropriate training and resources are available.
• Senior management and the Executive must ensure appropriate resources and services are available to carry out accommodation under this policy, and also have overall accountability for the University accommodation policy and program, including ensuring the University is in compliance with all legislative requirements.
5. Unions and Professional Associations:
Unions and professional associations are expected to take an active role as partners in the accommodation process and share joint responsibility with the employer to promote accommodation.
Central Employment Accommodation Fund (CEAF)
The University is a single employer, and the Human Rights Commission and the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board interpret accommodation in a manner consistent with the resources of the entire University. Therefore, both the employing department and the central administration of the University have a role in providing accommodation to persons with disabilities. In recognition of this, the University has established a Central Employment Accommodation Fund to assist departments in providing reasonable accommodation.
Departments may make application to the CEAF for expenses related to the provision of accommodation, based on the following terms and conditions.
1. Equipment and Physical Alterations: Departments are responsible for accommodation costs of $500 or less per employee, per year. For accommodation costs over this amount, the department pays $500 and the Fund shall pay up to 100% of any additional costs that meet the following criteria:
• The manager with the assistance of the Employment Equity Office must consider any outside/alternative sources of funding, if available (e.g. WSIB, Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP), Ontario Assistive Devices Program, grants, subsidies, etc.);
• The manager, in conjunction with the Centre for Environmental Health, Safety and Security Management, must consider any health and safety risks, if applicable;
• Funds will cover the difference in cost between regular equipment or operations and the cost to address a special need;
• The Fund will not support the purchases of ergonomically designed computer workstations and chairs that are made available to all employees. The provision of ergonomic workstations is the responsibility of the manager and should be budgeted as part of the normal University budget process, and acquired in a manner consistent with the University’s Purchasing Policy;
• The Fund will support the purchase of specialized non-standard workstation adaptive equipment for individual employees with disabilities;
• Any item purchased by the CEAF belongs to the University. The item remains with the employee for as long as it is needed while employed by the University. Equipment purchased through this Fund returns to the University when the employee no longer requires it or leaves the University.
2. Ongoing and Non-Equipment Related Expenses: Departments are responsible for on-going accommodation costs of $500 or less, per employee, per year. The CEAF will pay ongoing costs over $500 per employee, per year, for as long as the accommodation is required. Costs must meet the following criteria:
• Ongoing costs include maintenance of equipment purchased by the University or other non-equipment costs, such as hiring of support staff, sign language interpreters, etc.;
• Funding for services such as sign-language interpreters, attendants and clerical support do not require a new application for each fiscal year following the original year in which they were approved. The Employment Equity Office must be formally apprised in writing, however, at the beginning of each fiscal year, of the continuation of any ongoing costs relating to these types of expenditures that have been approved from the CEAF.
This policy, and its related procedure, falls under the jurisdiction of the Vice President, Administration and Finance. The interpretation and application of this policy is a responsibility of Human Resources.