My employer refuses to accommodate my childcare obligations. Can I do anything about this in Alberta?
The short answer is yes!
Employers in Alberta have a duty to accommodate employees‘ childcare obligations. This duty is recognized under the Alberta Human Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of family status.
Under the Alberta Human Rights Act, it is illegal for an employer to discriminate against an employee on the basis of their family status. This includes any obligation that an employee may have to care for children or other family members. Employers must accommodate an employee’s family status obligations up to the point of undue hardship.
The Alberta Human Rights Act defines family status as “the status of being related to another person by blood, marriage, adoption, common-law partnership, or any other similar relationship.” This broad definition includes any caregiving responsibilities an employee may have for a child or other family member.
The duty to accommodate means that employers must make reasonable efforts to accommodate employees who need to care for children or other family members. Reasonable accommodations may include flexible work hours, job sharing, modified work schedules, or telecommuting. Employers should work with employees to find the most appropriate accommodation based on the individual circumstances.
The duty to accommodate is not absolute, however. Employers are only required to accommodate employees up to the point of undue hardship. This means that employers are not required to accommodate an employee’s family status obligations if doing so would cause the employer to experience undue hardship.
What constitutes undue hardship can vary depending on the circumstances. Factors that may be taken into account include the size of the employer, the nature of the business, the financial resources of the employer, and the specific circumstances of the employee and their family status obligations.
In general, however, undue hardship is considered to be a high standard. Employers must provide evidence that accommodating an employee’s family status obligations would result in significant financial or operational difficulties for the business.
It’s important to note that the duty to accommodate is a two-way street. Employees have a duty to cooperate with their employers and make reasonable efforts to accommodate their work obligations as well. This means that employees should communicate their family status obligations to their employer in a timely manner and be willing to work with their employer to find appropriate accommodation.
If an employer fails to accommodate an employee’s family status obligations and discrimination can be proven, the employee may file a complaint with the Alberta Human Rights Commission. The Commission has the authority to investigate complaints and order employers to take corrective action if discrimination is found.
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Written by: Shikha Shukla