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  • Conner Lantz
    Keymaster
    Post count: 4836

    Hello,
    An employee is requesting to reduce her hours due to her husband recently experiencing the passing of a relative (out of country). He is not taking the situation very well so the employee feels she should be with him.
    The employee has a history of requesting to reduce her hours for a variety of reasons, some of which we were able to accommodate in the past. However, at this time we are extremely busy with work and are not in a position to decrease her hours to part time.
    Do we have to approve her request?

    Conner Lantz
    Keymaster
    Post count: 4836

    It depends. Legally, the employee is entitled to reasonable accommodations on the basis of family status. That includes schedule changes enabling employees to meet caregiving needs. HOWEVER, you don’t have to make an accommodation if it would impose undue hardship.
    The big question: Are the employee’s requested schedule changes a reasonable accommodation or an undue hardship? That’s a tough call, especially since I don’t know all the facts. But recognize that you have the burden of showing that the requested accommodation is undue hardship. Also recognize that mere inconvenience isn’t enough. You’ll have to show that accommodating the employee’s request would impose serious costs or disruption to your business. Here’s some excellent Guidance from Alberta on what to consider in trying to determine if a requested accommodation would impose undue hardship:
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    .To determine if undue hardship would occur, the employer should review factors such as:

    • Financial costs-Financial costs must be substantial in order to be found to cause undue hardship. They must be so significant that they would substantially affect productivity or efficiency of the employer responsible for the accommodation. Accommodation measures could result in lost revenue, which should be taken into account when assessing undue hardship. However, if lost revenue due to accommodation would be offset by increased productivity, tax exemptions, grants, subsidies or other gains, then undue hardship may not be a factor. Financial costs do not include the expense of complying with other legislation or regulations, such as building codes (for example, providing wheelchair accessible washrooms or separate washroom facilities for men and women).
    • Size and resources of the employer– The cost of modifying premises or equipment and the ability to amortize such costs will be taken into consideration when assessing if there is undue hardship. The larger the operation, the more likely it is that it can afford to support a wider range of accommodations without undue hardship.
    • Disruption of operations-The extent to which the inconvenience would prevent the employer from carrying out essential business will be a factor when assessing undue hardship. For example, modifying a workspace in a way that substantially interferes with workflow may be considered too disruptive to the workplace. Also where there is no productive work available to offer to the employee, accommodation may be an undue hardship.
    •  Morale problems of other employees brought about by the accommodation-Morale problems could be due to the negative impact of increased workload on other employees and a requirement to work too much overtime. If other employees begin to experience sleep difficulties or other health issues brought about by the accommodation of a particular employee, then the accommodation may be an undue hardship.
    • Substantial interference with the rights of other individuals or groups-A proposed accommodation should not interfere significantly with the rights of others or discriminate against them. For example, a substantial departure from the terms of a collective agreement could be a serious concern to other employees. However, the objections of other employees must be based on well-grounded concerns that their rights will be affected.
    • Interchangeability of work force and facilities-Whether an employer could relocate employees to other positions on a temporary or permanent basis is a factor in determining undue hardship. This may be easier for a larger company.
    • Health and safety concerns-Where safety is a concern, consider the level of risk and who bears that risk. For example, consider if the accommodation would violate health and safety regulations. There would be an undue hardship if accommodation sacrificed safety for either the employee or others.
    • ******
    • Hope that helps. Glenn.
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