Workplace Accommodations

The university is committed to ensuring an inclusive working environment that is free from discrimination. 

A workplace accommodation is an adjustment to the terms and conditions of employment to ensure those who are otherwise able to work are not excluded from doing so based on a Protected Ground. An accommodation might involve changing a rule, standard, or physical workplace such as:

  • modification of work or break schedule
  • modification of job duties, or bundling of job duties
  • changes to the work station or equipment used
  • altering the premises to ensure accessibility
  • adjusting policies (such as altering a uniform requirement).

In support of our continued efforts to arrange meaningful workplace accommodations, we are pleased to introduce the Workplace Accommodation Policy and Procedure. The Policy and Procedure were developed to ensure that Academic Staff, Postdoctoral Scholars, Graduate Student Staff Members, MaPS, AUPE Employees, and SLT understand their rights and responsibilities in respect of workplace accommodations. The Policy and Procedure will streamline our accommodation processes.

Request for workplace accommodation can be submitted to your manager, Dean or equivalent. You may also use the appropriate form for your staff group below to facilitate the assessment of your request:

If you have questions regarding workplace accommodations, refer to the following resources for more information:

About the Program

“Protected Grounds” are grounds upon which discrimination is prohibited under Section 7 of the Alberta Human Rights Act, including:

  • race
  • religious beliefs
  • colour
  • gender
  • gender identity
  • gender expression
  • physical disability
  • mental disability
  • age
  • ancestry
  • place of origin
  • marital status
  • source of income
  • family status
  • sexual orientation

The policy and procedure are engaged when an Academic Staff Member, Postdoctoral Scholar, Graduate Student Staff Member or Employee requires modification to their work or work environment on the basis of a Protected Ground to perform their job.

The policy and procedure are not engaged for addressing personal preferences or requests for modification that are not based on the Protected Grounds.

No. The policy and procedure applies to requests for accommodation based on any of the Protected Grounds.

An individual represented by a bargaining unit can choose to involve his or her representative at any point in the accommodation process. The university may also involve the bargaining agent if the Reasonable Accommodation will require a modification to any term of a Collective Agreement.

A BFOR means those specific skills, abilities, duties, or practices that are necessary to achieve the legitimate objectives of a position at the university. In other words, it means what is actually required for a person to fulfill the core aspects of their role.

In certain circumstances discrimination or exclusion may be allowed if an employer can show that a discriminatory standard or rule is a necessary requirement of the job (i.e., that it is a BFOR). When assessing Reasonable Accommodations, Managers and Deans must carefully consider the BFORs of a position when determining if an Accommodation is possible.

 For example, if an employee who drives a vehicle as part of her job becomes blind, the university would not be able to accommodate her in her own job, given that a driver’s license is a requirement and you must be able to see to maintain a driver’s license.  A driver’s license is a BFOR for that particular job.

The parties are encouraged to review the accommodation using the procedure to ensure that the Accommodation remains necessary. The parties should consider documenting the Accommodation using a Letter of Accommodation and committing to a review period. In the event that an employee takes a position in another Faculty or Department, this avoids having to initiate an Accommodation request from scratch.

Requesting an Accommodation

Complete a Workplace Accommodation Request form and submit it to their Dean, Department Head, Manager, Human Resources or Staff Wellness (only if medical).

Complete a Workplace Accommodation Request form and submit it to their Manager, Human Resources or Staff Wellness (only if medical).

Informal accommodations are permissible under the policy and procedure in certain circumstances. If the Accommodation does not require a waiver or change to terms of the applicable Collective Agreement and lasts less than four weeks or does not require additional university resources, an informal accommodation may be appropriate and should be discussed with your Dean, Department Head, or Manager.

Medical Appointments

The Human Rights Act protects employees from discrimination on the basis of disability.  The Workplace Accommodation Policy and procedure similarly provide guidance in accommodating Academic Staff Members, Postdoctoral Scholars, Graduate Student Staff Members and Employees who suffer from physical or mental disabilities.

  • mental disability is defined in the Human Rights Act as any mental disorder, developmental disorder or learning disorder, regardless of the cause of duration of the disorder.
  • physical disability is defined in the Human Rights Act as any degree of physical disability, infirmity, malformation or disfigurement that is caused by bodily injury, birth defect or illness and, without limiting the generality of the foregoing, includes epilepsy, paralysis, amputation, lack of physical co-ordination, blindness or visual impediment, deafness or hearing impediment, muteness or speech impediment, and physical reliance on a guide dog, service dog, wheelchair or other remedial appliance or device.

Medical records are kept separate from general employee records and are only viewed by Staff Wellness.

Hard copies of documents are locked in cabinets and electronic files are stored on a health records management system that can only be accessed by authorized Staff Wellness personnel and are password protected.

Staff Wellness will share the relevant functional abilities and limitations with Human Resources. This information will form the basis for discussion with the Manager or Dean of Accommodation options.

It is the individual’s choice as to whether he or she provides medical information in support of a request for an Accommodation.  Medical information is personal information and it is an individual’s right to decide whether to provide it.  However, the university may not be able to provide the requested Accommodation without medical support for the need for Accommodation and of the specific limitations and restrictions.

Failing to provide medical information necessary for the university to assess the Accommodation request could impact the university’s ability to accommodate.

Finding a Reasonable Accommodation

For Workplace Accommodations work for Accommodations based on Protected Grounds other than physical or mental disability, follow the procedure as written and skip over the section titled “Medical Documentation” (4.4 - 4.8)

Yes, they may be asked to become involved in finding a Reasonable Accommodation.

The parties will work together to find a suitable and reasonable Accommodation but Individuals are not necessarily entitled to their preferred accommodation. The parties must agree to an Accommodation which addresses the discrimination but does not create Undue Hardship for the university.

The Dean or Manager will consider possible Accommodations within the same unit, working group or area.

If no Accommodation can be found at that point, the search will expand and possible Accommodations will be considered within other units, workgroups or areas within the faculty or department.

Human Resources will freeze the hiring process of any position for which the individual appears to be qualified and which meets the needs of the Accommodation. An assessment will then be made to determine whether the individual is indeed qualified for the role.

The Accommodation will be documented in an Accommodation Letter.

The individual should articulate their disagreement and why they disagree with the proposed Accommodation in the space provided on the Accommodation Letter. Individuals may propose alternate Reasonable Accommodations if they have any in mind.

The Academic Staff Member, Postdoctoral Scholar, Graduate Student Staff Member or Employee must notify their Dean or Manager of changes that impact their Accommodation. The Dean or Manager will review the information and determine whether they can informally accommodate the change, or whether a more thorough analysis is required under the procedure.

Once all efforts have been made to access funds from the home faculty and department and the department or faculty implementing the accommodation (if different), the Dean or SLT member may apply for additional funds.

Undue Hardship

Undue Hardship is a term used to explain that the university could not accommodate the Academic Staff Member, Postdoctoral Scholar, Graduate Student Staff Member or Employee. Undue Hardship is a difficult legal standard to meet and in most cases, the university will be able to provide a reasonable accommodation.

When we reach the point of Undue Hardship, any effective Accommodation would have a severe impact on the university, or generate onerous conditions such that the university cannot grant the accommodation.

The university will consider health and safety concerns, interference with the rights of others, disruption to operations, BFORs, and financial costs in determining whether it can find alternative work to meet an employee’s needs based on their limitations and restrictions.

For Academic Staff Members, Postdoctoral Scholars, and Graduate Student Staff Members

 If the parties cannot agree to a Reasonable Accommodation, the Dean or Senior Leadership Team member will refer the matter to the Provost and Vice-President (Academic) for consideration. The Provost and Vice-President (Academic) will consider submissions from the Academic Staff Member, Postdoctoral Scholar, Graduate Student Staff Member, any applicable bargaining agent, Human Resources, and advice from Legal Services in rendering a decision.

 For MaPS and AUPE Employees

 If the parties cannot agree to a Reasonable Accommodation, the Dean or Senior Leadership Team member will refer the matter to the Vice-President (Finance & Services) for consideration. The Vice-President (Finance & Services) will consider submissions from the Employee, any applicable bargaining agent, Human Resources, and advice from Legal Services in rendering a decision.