On Feb. 1, the Ontario Human Rights Commission released a policy statement on medical documentation that is needed when disability-related accommodation requests are made. The policy statement refers to the OHRC’s updated policy on the duty to accommodate disabilities and protect the disabled against discrimination that was released last year, noting the role of medical professionals in the accommodation process and the type and scope of medical information needed to give employers.
“One of the obvious big issues for employers especially is what can they ask employees to provide when they’re seeking accommodation?” says Renu Mandhane, chief commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission. “The new policy statement is meant to strike a balance between privacy and dignity [of the person seeking accommodation] and the need for the employer to understand functional limitations, and what they must accommodate.
“I think that a lot of respondents — service providers and employers — they don’t know what they’re allowed to ask for,” says Mandhane. “Our policy [since 2016] says there’s a duty to inquire. So, if an employer believes there may be a disability, the employer may ask about the disability-related issue.”