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September 2018

Mental Illness And An Individual's Employment Rights

Mental Illness And An Individual's Employment Rights

In Canada, approximately 75% of short and long-term disability claims are related to mental illness.[i] The fastest growing category of disability that Canadian employers are witnessing are depression and anxiety.[ii] The rapid rise of these types of claims is a very serious issue to Canadian employers – making it extremely important to have measures in place to support individuals with mental health issues.

In Ontario, organizations and businesses have a duty to design their services, policies, and processes with the needs of people with mental health disabilities and addictions taken into consideration. This is commonly referred to as an “inclusive design” where the duty to accommodate is a shared responsibility. Some examples of accommodation include:
  1. Increased flexibility in work hours or work leave;
  2. Depending on the circumstances, job restructuring, retraining or assignment to an alternative position; and
  3. Getting information about community resources and supports.
It is advisable that organizations have their own internal policies and procedures as they relate to accommodation – all of which are required to be compliant with relevant human rights legislation. While there will always be different provincial, territorial and federal Human Rights Codes, as well as the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the obligations are generally similar.

Generally, all legal frameworks related to the duty to accommodate state that everyone has the right to equal treatment in employment and cannot be discriminated against due to their actual or perceived disability. Further information on the subject matters is explained by the Canadian Human Rights Commission.[iii]

There are also various statutes and guidelines that prohibit discrimination against individuals with disabilities such as:
  1. Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms;
  2. Canadian Human Rights Act;
  3. Provincial and Territorial Human Rights Agencies;
  4. Employment Equity Act;
  5. Occupational Health and Safety;
  6. Employment Standards;
  7. Worker’s Compensation; and
  8. Accessibility and Mental Illness.
When dealing with matters surrounding the duty to accommodate and the rights of employees who have mental health illnesses – we always encourage both personal and commercial DAS policyholders to contact our Legal Advice Helpline.  General legal advice will be provided, so no one faces making assumptions as to the intent and/or impact company policies have on this very important wellness topic.
 
[i] Mood Disorders Society of Canada (2018). Health and Wellness in the Workplace. Retrieved from https://mdsc.ca/workplace/health-and-wellness-in-the-workplace/
[ii] Mood Disorders Society of Canada (2009). Mental Health and Addiction in Canada. Retrieved from https://mdsc.ca/documents/Media%20Room/Quick%20Facts%203rd%20Edition%20Eng%20Nov%2012%2009.pdf
[iii] Ontario Human Rights Commission (2018). Inclusive Design and the Duty To Accommodate Fact Sheet. Retrieved from http://www.ohrc.on.ca/en/inclusive-design-and-duty-accommodate-fact-sheet
Posted: 9/13/2018 10:28:19 AM by Alexandrea Sharpe
Filed under: canada, employment rights, health, mental, ontario


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