The Fundamentals - Duty to Accommodate: Roles and Responsibilities

Departments and agencies are accountable for accommodation and the establishment of a process by which employees and candidates can seek appropriate accommodation for their individual needs. They are responsible for communicating Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat's Policy on the Duty to Accommodate Persons with Disabilities in the Federal Public Service to all employees and to candidates in a selection process. The duty to accommodate is a shared responsibility among the manager, the employee and the union for ensuring that an individual accommodation is identified and provided.


Managers are responsible for advising employees about supports for diversity and differences in the workplace. They are accountable for informing employees about the duty to accommodate and the procedures for obtaining accommodation, as well as the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat's Policy on the Duty to Accommodate Persons with Disabilities in the Federal Public Service. Managers are required to make available the resources necessary for the implementation of this policy.

Managers have the responsibility for creating and maintaining an inclusive, barrier-free and accessible workplace in which each employee can make an optimal contribution, and to take steps to remove any barriers that might prevent this. When barriers cannot be removed, managers must accommodate individual employees up to the point of undue hardship.

Under certain circumstances, a manager may be required to offer accommodation to an employee even though the employee has not requested it. Employers have an obligation to initiate a discussion about accommodation where they are aware an employee may have a need that they are unable to express. Such situations should be handled with the utmost consideration for the privacy and dignity of the employee, and a manager may wish to obtain confidential and expert advice from within the department/agency before proceeding. The procedure for accommodation would continue only with the consent of the employee.

A third party (such as a union, family member or colleague) may also request accommodation on behalf of an employee. A disability manager, return-to-work coordinator or workers' compensation board advisor may also make a request for accommodation.

Managers are not to make a determination that a requirement is a bona fide occupational requirement without the advice of Labour Relations. These decisions must consider many factors, including collective agreements, labour legislation and the Canadian Human Rights Act.


An employee has a right to accommodation under the law. However, it is the employee's responsibility to inform the immediate manager of the nature of requirements/request and to cooperate fully in finding a workable solution. Accommodation can best be handled with the employee's full participation in both the identification of requirements and, where possible, alternatives and solutions. Employees are expected to be open to alternative suggestions that meet their needs and to be flexible when considering proposals that effectively respond to their needs. Accommodation can be a challenging area. Employees may not always know about alternatives. It should not be the employee's responsibility alone to research and provide options.

It is the employee's responsibility to inform the immediate manager when changes are required for a provided accommodation or when the accommodation is no longer necessary.

Human Resources

Human resources advisors or a department's Labour Relations unit are responsible for reminding managers, employees and candidates of:


The employee's right to confidentiality must be respected in all cases

Union representatives often play a facilitator and advisory role in connection with employee accommodation. An employee may, where applicable, request the involvement of a Union representative for advice or assistance regarding their requests for accommodation. Union representatives have an obligation to cooperate in the search for reasonable accommodation solutions.

When the provisions in a collective agreement affect accommodation, with the employee's consent, a department/agency will work with the union and the employee to determine the best accommodation solution possible.

Upon being notified by an employee of a need for workplace accommodation, union representatives should inform the employee's immediate manager. They may also stay involved in the process, if requested by the employee.

Public Service Commission of Canada

The policy of the Treasury Board and the Public Service Commission of Canada is to create and maintain an inclusive, barrier-free environment in the federal public service to ensure the full participation of persons with disabilities. This policy is to be implemented by:

  • Identifying and removing barriers to employment, career development and promotion of persons with disabilities unless doing so would result in undue hardship;
  • Designing all employment systems, processes and facilities to be accessible by building accommodation into workplace standards, systems, processes and facilities; and
  • Accommodating individuals when such barriers cannot be removed.

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