Ask the ExpertCategory: QuestionsModified Duties Requirement
hri_Admin Staff asked 3 years ago

BC Employer here. We have an employee in our manufacturing plant who had a non-work related injury. She has since been bringing in a note every month specifying she can’t work on a specific machine. We are going on for almost 9 months. I am wondering, how long an employer is obligated to make this kind of accommodation?

1 Answers
Glenn Demby Staff answered 3 years ago

That’s a deceptively complex Q. Let me see if I can break it down.
Under human rights laws, you have a duty to accommodate the worker to the point of undue hardship. The Q of whether an accommodation, in this case not requiring her to use the machine and offering her suitable work she can do, depends on: A. The employee’s capabilities; and B. The unique circumstances of your workplace.
So, start by doing a medical assessment to determine what the employee can and can’t do. Consider whether modifications can be made that WOULD allow her to operate the machine. If that’s out of the question, you’re probably looking at modified work. Although not technically required because the injury isn’t work-related, it’s probably a good idea to follow the WorkSafeBC “suitable modified work” criteria in trying to come up with suitable work to offer as an accommodation, i.e., work that’s:
*Suited to the employee’s skills and abilities;
Meaningful and productive;
*Safe for her to do; and
*Within her current limitations.
If you have no such work, you don’t have to create a special job just for the worker (that would probably be deemed undue hardship). But you do have to be able to document that you did the assessment and a thorough inquiry and determined that there was no suitable modified work the employee could do in the likely event that she or the union file a legal complaint.
Hope that helps and please feel free to follow up with me directly. Glenn glennd@bongarde.com