Accommodation in the Workplace – What You Should Know

What is Accommodation?

An accommodation in the workplace is a legal requirement for employers to provide solutions for employees with disabilities in order for the employee to be productive in the workplace.  An accommodation is a reasonable adjustment or change to the work, work tools or work process to allow the employee to complete the essential duties of the job. According to the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s Ableism and Discrimination based on Disability Policy 2016, there are changes to the definition of disability for an employee that may request an accommodation.  The obligation is applicable throughout the employment life cycle.

How Accommodation Works

For an accommodation to occur, the responsibility first belongs to the employee. The employee has an obligation to be forthcoming in terms of providing information to their employer. Once the employee has established that they have a disability that requires accommodation, the burden then shifts to the employer to prove that every reasonable effort was made to accommodate. When an employee has a need for an accommodation, the employer has a duty to provide reasonable accommodation. This means the employer must investigate whether the employee’s existing position, tools or workstation can be adjusted, adapted or modified for the employee, or if there are any other positions which might be more suitable for the employee.

The employer has the responsibility to look at ALL reasonable accommodations – in doing so, the employer must:

  1. Determine if the employee can perform their existing essential duties of the job without changes
  2. If the employee cannot perform their existing job, then the employer must determine if the employee can perform their existing job in a modified form
  3. If the employee cannot, then the employer must determine if they can perform any other job in its’ existing form
  4. If the employee cannot, then the employer must determine if they can perform another job in a modified form
  5. The employer must then determine if the modifications or adjustments constitute “undue hardship” – meaning adjustments would be too expensive or a health and safety risk
  6. In all situations – the employer must make a “good faith” effort to accommodate the individual within the workplace

The Importance of Accommodation

Accommodations are necessary for employees with mental and physical disabilities in order to stay at or return to work. Having sustainable solutions in the workplace are important for employee productivity, safety, and physical and mental well-being. Gowan Consulting offers accommodation resources – from assessment to intervention – to assist employees in the ability to stay at work, or return to work after lost time. Our Occupational Therapists can provided assessments to determine necessary accommodations to assist employees in completing the essential duties of the job.

Gowan Consulting is offering our Mental Health and Return to Work Workshop – where participants will learn how to assist employees with mental health condition in returning to work and staying at work. Mental health accommodations are complex but necessary in the workplace – this workshop will teach participants all the latest information regarding mental health accommodations. Click here to register and receive the early bird pricing discount!

Gowan Consulting offers prerecorded webinars on accommodation for individuals with mental health, cognitive, learning disabilities, upper extremity conditions, vision and hearing challenges.  Check out our range of accommodation webinars.

Contact us to learn more about the resources we offer and how we can assist with accommodations in your workplace!

Works Cited:

Ontario Human Rights Commission. (2008). 8. Meeting the accommodation needs of employees on the job. Human Rights at Work 2008 – 3rd Ed. Retrieved from

Ontario Human Rights Commission. (2016) Policy on Ableism and disacrimination based on disability. Retrieved from

Photos retrieved from


About Author

One comment for “Accommodation in the Workplace – What You Should Know

Leave Comment