Human Resources Procedures/Guidelines
Accommodation Procedures

Relates to: Accommodation Policy
Category: Employment Equity, Human Rights and Accommodation

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The following procedures have been established so that employees/job applicants, service recipients (including those accessing City facilities) and City management are familiar with their roles and responsibilities as they relate to the process of exploring and assessing requests for accommodation. These procedures should be read in conjunction with the City of Toronto’s Accommodation Policy, and with the various guidelines created to address the particular accommodation principles established for responding to requests on the frequently cited protected/prohibited grounds of creed, disability, family status, gender identity/expression and sex (including pregnancy and breastfeeding).

Removing Systemic Barriers

Simple and cost effective accommodation solutions can be found when taking a systemic approach to identifying and removing barriers. However, such barriers are not always apparent and employees/job applicants and service recipients are encouraged to work with management to help identify existing and/or potential barriers.

Accommodation Procedures

1. Assessing and verifying the need for accommodation:

Individuals Requesting Accommodation
Individuals responding to accommodation requests - Management includes supervisors, managers and Human Resources staff

In most cases individuals are responsible for making their request for accommodation.

Use the confidential form to Request/Document Accommodation Plans

If Management believes there is a need for accommodation not requested by an employee (i.e. they suspect an undisclosed disability), they have an obligation to initiate the accommodation process. Consult with the Human Rights Office (HRO) if you suspect there may be a duty to inquire about accommodation needs.

Management documents each stage in the accommodation process using the confidential form to Request/Document Accommodation Plans

Functional Limitations:

Those requesting accommodation should focus on the functional limitations that are impacting their ability to apply for work, perform their job or access City services and facilities. For more details see: Understanding Functional Limitations

Avoid focusing on preferred accommodation measures at this early stage. Consult with the HRO for assistance.

Management will determine whether appropriate functional limitations have been identified in consultation with experts as necessary, and if not, will ask the requester to identify appropriate functional limitations. For more details see: Understanding Functional Limitations

For additional assistance identifying appropriate functional limitations management should consult with the HRO and other experts as necessary, e.g. Employee Health and Rehabilitation (EHR).

Supporting Documentation:

Requests for accommodation are required to include sufficient information, including objective documentation, to confirm the need for accommodation and the type(s) of accommodation required. Supporting documentation must be verifiable. Examples of verifiable documentation include: a letter from a treating physician identifying functional limitations or a court sanctioned custody agreement setting out child-care responsibilities.

Supporting documentation may not be required for those seeking accommodation on the grounds of gender identity and/or gender expression or creed.

Management will review the request and any documentation provided to support the need for accommodation. If the functional limitations are clearly identified and there are no concerns about the supporting documentation, the manager may meet with the requester to discuss accommodation options.

If the functional limitations are not clear and/or there is no supporting documentation, or if the manager has a concern with the content/source of the documentation, they will need to verify the functional limitations. See the 'follow up' section below.

All supporting documentation will be considered strictly confidential.


In many cases, the requester will need to provide additional information about their functional limitations after the initial request for accommodation.

Individuals should be prepared to answer questions about their functional limitations and/or provide (additional) documentary evidence.

Management may need to verify the identified functional limitations by consulting the employee/service recipient and/or seeking appropriate expertise. For example, management may ask the employee/service recipient for clarification, consult internally (the HRO, EHR, etc.), and/or externally (the 519 Community Centre for information on gender identity/expression accommodation, Faith leaders/scholars, etc.). Management questions and requests for additional information should be restricted to the individual’s functional capacity and limitations, and the impact they have on the requester's ability to apply for work, perform their job or access City services and facilities.

Refer to the accommodation guidelines for examples of suitable questions and guidance on engaging subject-matter expertise. Consult the HRO if unclear.

Assessment of Accommodation Request:

In some cases, Management may determine that there is insufficient evidence, or that the evidence does not support the need for accommodation. There may be no requirement for accommodation if:

  • the request is not linked to a protected/prohibited ground in the policy
  • the requester refuses to provide supporting documentation
  • the denial of the request does not impose burdens, obligations or disadvantages on the requester
  • the functional limitations do not trigger the need for accommodation when reviewed against the essential duties of the job or service being provided
  • evidence is received that contradicts the information provided by the employee/resident (particularly if it is received from a subject-matter expert)

Management must be able to demonstrate that the accommodation process was undertaken in good faith, and must have evidence to support denying a request. Always consult with the HRO if it is suspected that accommodation is not required. See 'denying request' under section 4 below if evidence confirms that accommodation is not required.

2. Dialogue

Topics of Discussion:

Once the functional limitations are verified, the parties will explore the request further. They are expected to:

  • discuss the employment or service related tasks/essential requirements that are impacted
  • identify possible accommodation solutions and assess the effectiveness each would have
  • identify any costs, benefits or detriments flowing from the alternatives
  • discuss timeframes for review and implementation (accommodation plans must be reviewed at least annually)

Try to be creative and identify as many accommodation solutions as possible. Identifying numerous options at this stage will increase the likelihood of successful accommodation.

Identifying Preferred Measures:

The requester can identify the accommodation measure they prefer, but must also be open to exploring other options that effectively accommodate their functional limitations.

Management should consider the preferred accommodation measure requested. However, if there is an equally effective accommodation solution, the City may choose to proceed with the one that is the least costly, easiest to provide and/or a better fit with Division operations where it can demonstrate that it meets the need(s) of the requester.

3. Identifying and Implementing the Accommodation Solution:

Interim Accommodation:

In some cases it may be necessary to provide interim accommodation while waiting for an accommodation to be put in place or while assessing and exploring a request for accommodation, (e.g. a manager may exempt an employee from some essential duties or arrange to have those duties performed by someone else on a temporary basis).

Assessing Options:

If there is evidence that an accommodation is required and Management determines that the accommodation can be made, it will then need to determine which accommodation option is most feasible. Factors to consider include:

  • how well the option respects the dignity of the requester
  • how the options compare in dollar value
  • whether options are compatible with other systems or the operations of the unit
  • how difficult the option is to learn or if the requester has successfully used similar accommodations
Selecting Accommodation Measure:

Efforts must be made to ensure that the requester is not disadvantaged by the accommodation measure chosen. Management should choose the option with the least disruption to the requester. However, the circumstances may be such that accommodation cannot be provided without disruption to the requester. In those instances, the requester has an obligation to accept a reasonable accommodation offer. Some examples from the employment context are provided below:

There is no obligation on the part of the City to pay for leave required as part of an accommodation (beyond existing leave provisions that form part of the employment contract, including sick and ill dependant leaves). The following are examples of types of accommodation-based leaves that are unpaid: leave required for religious observance; leave required to care for a child or parent when ill dependant leave is exhausted or does not apply in the circumstances; or, when a medical condition results in a permanent reduced work week. However, employees that require leave from work to accommodate their functional limitations must be provided options that limit the disruption to the employee, including shift changes where available, flexible work hours where appropriate, using lieu time, using vacation or floater days or using leave without pay (often as a last resort). Consider whether the employee's preferred form of leave can be granted.

The City is obligated to fully explore accommodation within an employee's own job. Accommodation outside of the employee's position (e.g. reassignment to a vacant position) may be considered; for example, when the employee cannot perform the essential duties of the position and/or accommodation in the current position would create undue hardship. However, this does not mean that a new job must be created for an employee, nor does the application of this policy constitute a guarantee of continued employment. The City is not obligated to accept substandard or less than competent performance from an employee once they have been accommodated.

Although the above are examples from the employment context, the principles also apply to accommodation of service recipients. Consult the HRO for advice on selecting accommodation measures.

Implementation and Review:

Once the accommodation option has been selected the requester will be informed in writing. The chosen accommodation should be implemented as quickly as possible. In most cases it will be necessary to monitor the success of the specific accommodation. It is necessary to review, modify or upgrade accommodations as jobs; services; functional limitations and accommodation options change over time. Accommodations may also need to be reviewed periodically to assess the impact on the operations of the work unit.

To meet legislative requirements and to ensure accommodation plans are implemented and reviewed consistently, accommodation plans must be reviewed on at least an annual basis.

4. Assessing Undue Hardship and/or Denying the Request:

The duty to accommodate does not create an endless obligation on the City. Circumstances of the individual, the co-operation of the requester, the success of accommodation attempts, and (limited to the employment context) the ability to perform the essential duties of the job and performance difficulties will all be relevant to determining where the duty to accommodate ends.

The City is not obligated to accommodate employees/service recipients in cases where it can demonstrate undue hardship. The Ontario Human Rights Code sets out three elements to be considered in assessing whether an accommodation would cause undue hardship:

  1. Costs
    • According to the Ontario Human Rights Commission, over two-thirds of job accommodation cost under $500; many cost nothing at all. (Policy and guidelines on disability and the duty to accommodate, 2009).
    • The determination of cost as an undue hardship is based on the circumstances of the organization as a whole and the nature of the accommodation requested. Costs for the City of Toronto as an employer must be significantly high to be considered an undue hardship. Such costs must be quantifiable and may include capital, operating costs and the cost of re-structuring.
    • Where immediate removal of large-scale barriers would cause undue hardship, the City may phase in accommodation gradually. The City will provide interim accommodations in such circumstances.
  2. Outside Sources of funding
    • The availability of outside sources of funding may alleviate accommodation costs. The City must first consider the availability of outside resources before claiming undue hardship. These resources could be funds that may be available to the individual only or directly to the City and may be provided through government programs (i.e. programs to improve accessibility for persons with disabilities).
  3. Health and Safety
    • There may be some situations where a health or safety requirement, legislated or not, effectively excludes someone from employment/accessing City services. However, it must be determined whether any health and safety requirement can be waived or modified or if alternatives can be found to protect health and safety.
    • If Ontario health and safety laws do not allow a requirement to be waived, an equivalent safety measure may be used. You will need to explain the risks to the individual if the risk of harm is only to the person making the request. If the accommodation contravenes health and safety legislation and places the person at significant risk, then undue hardship exists. You should consult Occupational Health & Safety staff in making these determinations.

Imprecise calculations or assumptions about potential costs and/or health and safety implications are insufficient to demonstrate undue hardship. Objective evidence/data showing actual costs and/or actual health and safety impacts are required to meet the undue hardship threshold.

The following factors cannot be considered in determining whether the City has reached the point of undue hardship: Business inconvenience, employee morale, and collective agreements or contracts.
Denying request:

If a request for accommodation is denied and the individual believes the request has not been handled in accordance with the Accommodation Policy, a number of options are available for the individual:

  • discuss the issue with senior management in the division
  • lodge a complaint to the HRO under the City's Human Rights and Anti-Harassment/Discrimination Policy
  • submit a grievance under a collective agreement
  • Submit a complaint to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario

Management must consult with the HRO if it assesses that there is no requirement to accommodate (as described under ’assessment’ in section 1 above), there are no accommodation options or those proposed cannot be implemented without undue hardship.

Management will then notify the individual in writing with the reason for denying the request.

Approved by

Director, Equity, Diversity and Human Rights Division

Date Approved

August 25, 2014

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