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Queen's University

Accommodation in the Workplace Policy

The University is committed to creating a community that is inclusive of all persons and treats all members of the community in an equitable manner. In creating such a community, the University aims to foster a climate of understanding and mutual respect for the dignity and worth of all persons.

In working toward this goal, the University will strive to provide support for, and facilitate the accommodation (in relation to the Human Rights Code) of individuals so that all may share the same level of access to opportunities, participate in the full range of activities that the University offers, and achieve their full potential as members of the University community.


The purpose of this policy is to:

  • Provide a clear statement of the obligations and responsibilities that are inherent in the University accommodation process

  • Provide guidance and standards for the implementation of this policy.


Within the guidelines and requirements of the Ontario Human Rights Code, the University is committed to:

  • Ensuring that each person 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.

  • Ensuring compliance with all applicable legislation and University policy.

  • Establishing an efficient and timely accommodation process that is consistent with principles of confidentiality and shared responsibility.

  • Clarifying roles and accountabilities within the Queen’s 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 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

  • Inclusion by ensuring that the person to be accommodated is involved in the process and plan design

  • Respect for confidentiality, including during the process of consultation such that only relevant stakeholders are involved in the development of the accommodation plan

Specific principles that form the foundation of this policy include:

  • Accommodation includes and integrates persons into employment activities in a manner that respects their dignity, autonomy and self-esteem. Directors/Department Heads shall ensure that individuals are not in any way disadvantaged because they have sought or require accommodation.

  • The need to consult with appropriate specialists when validating medical and/or disability information, determine individual accommodation requirements and consult on specific accommodation issues is recognized in this policy.

  • The principle of shared responsibility forms the foundation of the Accommodation Fund. Departments are responsible for expenses up to a maximum of $1000.00 per employee, per year. Expenses over this amount will be funded through the fund or other University funds as necessary.

  • Prior to any request for funds being made to the fund, the Workplace Advisor, Accommodation and Wellness shall explore alternative sources of funding (e.g. Workers Compensation Board, Ontario Assistive Devices Program, etc.).

Application and Scope

The policy applies to any general support staff employee, and to job applicants that may require accommodation during the application and selection process at Queen’s.


Statutory Definitions

  • Statutory definitions, as set out in the Ontario Human Rights Code, R.S.O. 1990, Chapter H.19 can be found on the Ontario Human Rights Commission website.

Non-statutory definitions

  1. Accommodation

    Accommodation is understood as any temporary or permanent measure used to remove a barrier which prevents an otherwise qualified individual from performing or fulfilling the essential duties of a job.

    The University will attempt to accommodate the employment needs of a job applicant and employees who are protected under the Code up to the point of undue hardship.

  2. 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.

    Note: Budgetary restrictions cannot be assumed to be a barrier to accommodation. If the cost of providing necessary accommodations is an issue please consult with the Workplace Advisor, Accommodation and Wellness.

Types of Accommodations

Employment accommodation may be implemented because of requirements related to various areas, including disability, family status or religious observances.

Accommodation for a person with a disability is one common form of accommodation that may be requested in the workplace. In order to accommodate persons with disabilities, members of the University need to understand what conditions are defined as a disability. The Ontario Human Rights Code provides a basic definition of disability to include conditions that have developed over time, those that result from an accident, or have been present from birth. It includes physical, mental, and learning disabilities and it does not matter whether the condition is visible. For example, persons with mental disorders, sensory disabilities (such as hearing or vision limitations) and epilepsy are all protected under the Code.

Family status is another common ground for which accommodation may be requested. Employees may seek accommodation to allow them the time to attend to family responsibilities.

Requests for accommodations may also arise from requirements around religious observance. Where a rule conflicts with religious requirements, there is a duty to ensure that individuals are able to observe their religion, unless this would cause undue hardship because of cost, or health and safety reasons. Unlawful discrimination because of religion can include:

  • Refusing to make an exception to dress codes to recognize religious dress requirements

  • Refusing to allow individuals to observe periods of prayer at particular times during the day

  • Refusing to permit individuals to take time off to observe a religious holiday

Although disability, family status and religion are common grounds for accommodation requests, they may not be restricted to these grounds alone. Requests for accommodation under any of the other grounds listed in the Ontario Human Rights Code are possible and should be approached using the same process described herein. The grounds are: race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, age, record of offences, marital status, family status and disability.

Confidentiality of Information

Personal information concerning an employee 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 for which the release was required.


This policy, and its procedures, falls under the jurisdiction of the Vice-Principal Human Resources. The interpretation and application of this policy is a responsibility of the Human Resources Department.

Queen's Human Resources
Fleming Hall, Stewart-Pollock Wing
Kingston, Ontario, Canada. K7L 3N6.
T: 613.533.2070 | F: 613.533.6196