Human Resources Procedures/Guidelines
Guidelines for Accommodating Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

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

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This guideline must be read in conjunction with the City's Accommodation Policy and corresponding Procedures.

The term ‘Management’ refers to Divisional supervisors and managers, as well as Human Resources staff.


The City's Accommodation Policy outlines the obligation to accommodate individuals in accordance with the City’s Human Rights and Anti-Harassment/Discrimination Policy and Ontario's Human Rights Code (Code). This guideline raises awareness and fulfills our shared obligation to accommodate employees, job applicants and service recipients based on the ground of sex, which includes Pregnancy and Breastfeeding.

The Code requires that all employees, job applicants and service recipients receive equal treatment and opportunities regardless of their sex, including the right to equal treatment without discrimination because a person is, was, or may become pregnant.

Definition: Pregnancy

Pregnancy includes the process from conception up to the period following childbirth. Special needs and circumstances that may be experienced as a result of pregnancy are also included within the definition of pregnancy. Special needs can relate to circumstances arising from:

  • miscarriage or stillbirth
  • abortion
  • conditions which result directly or indirectly from an abortion/miscarriage or stillbirth
  • fertility treatments/ other interventions to get pregnant
  • medical complications resulting from pregnancy
  • recovery from childbirth
  • breastfeeding
  • postpartum depression

Pregnancy-related Accommodation

All employees, job applicants and service recipients have a right to be treated with respect and dignity in a manner that recognizes the particular and distinct experiences that individuals encounter during pregnancy.

There is absolutely no obligation for job applicants to disclose a pregnancy. Management must not comment on or question a job candidate (or their references) about whether they are pregnant, have children, or plan to have children.

Requests for pregnancy-related accommodation may arise as a result of the common physical changes that result from any pregnancy (e.g. a reduction in the ability to stand for lengthy periods), or may be linked to less common circumstances (e.g. medical complications from pregnancy).

Management cannot arbitrarily decide that a pregnant employee should take a leave of absence as an accommodation measure, nor should assumptions be made about the abilities of pregnant service recipients.

If a pregnant employee or service recipient does not request accommodation, Management should not presume that they require accommodation. Management may respectfully inquire into whether any pregnancy-related needs exist. Management should follow the City's process for approving pregnancy and parental leaves and be careful not to make assumptions about the pregnant employee's choices with respect to these leaves.

The City promotes the right to breastfeed on City premises anytime and at any location. Those who are breastfeeding or expressing milk should not be asked to "cover up". If the person breastfeeding requests it, the City must make a reasonable effort to secure a designated private space appropriate for breastfeeding or expressing breast milk. The designated space may be multipurpose provided that an alternative space is readily available if the multipurpose space is in use.

Assessing the Accommodation Request

Employees and service recipients that have accommodation needs due to common physical changes that result from any pregnancy (e.g. the need for more frequent washroom breaks or the need to attend regular medical appointments) should not be required to provide supporting documentation for their accommodation request.

The City should not require anyone to provide medical documentation to substantiate the need to breastfeed or express milk.

Where pregnancy-related accommodation needs exist that are less common or more complicated, (e.g. severe morning sickness: hyperemesis gravidarum) the person who requires the pregnancy-related accommodation should make the request using the Request-Document Accommodation Plans form. In these circumstances requesters will need to provide objective medical documentation to support the need for accommodation, and should cooperate with Management and any experts involved (i.e. Employee Health and Rehabilitation). Management must treat information confidentially.

Accommodation Options

The parties should seek out creative and flexible responses to individual pregnancy-related needs.

Temporary solutions can include the following:

  • shift changes
  • flexible hours (for morning sickness or breastfeeding and expressing breast milk - whether on City property or at a nearby location)
  • providing private space for breastfeeding or expressing breast milk and facilitating or supporting options for expressed milk
  • allowing job applicants break time during testing to breastfeed or express breast milk
  • job-sharing or task-sharing arrangements
  • modified job duties (including light duties)
  • exploring part-time work options
  • assignment to an alternate job
  • extra washroom breaks
  • alterations to uniforms
  • time off for pregnancy-related medical appointments including treatment for infertility - consistent with existing leave provisions
  • leave or a leave extension consistent with existing leave provisions
  • exploring alternate commuting options in exceptional circumstances - Consult HRO for advice.

Employees are responsible for making up time if necessary and arranging this with their supervisor/manager.


Human Rights Office: 416-392-8383 TTY 416-397-7332

Employee Assistance Program: 416-392-6633

Employee Health and Rehabilitation Services: 416-392-7330

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Approved by

Director, Equity, Diversity and Human Rights Division

Date Approved

August 25, 2014


April 27, 2017

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