Network - Spring 2011 - (Page 42)

O Feature By Suzanne McFarlane The Separation of Church and Work The duty to accommodate religious practices is not discretionary and employers should approach this mandatory requirement with openness. After all, accommodation really means removing barriers that would otherwise prevent employees from performing their jobs optimally. When framed in the context of improving employee productivity, there is a strong business case for all types of accommodation in the workplace, including religion. What exactly does the duty to accommodate employees’ religious practices entail? The following points deal with accommodation of religious practices in the workforce. the health and safety of workers are endangered. Most employers should be able to manage religious accommodation without getting to the point of undue hardship. There are a multitude of religions and faiths, not just the major ones such as Christianity, Islam, Judaism, M oney, politics, and religion. Those are the three traditional taboos you’re not supposed to talk about. But religion is a topic employers simply can’t ignore, both from a legal standpoint and in terms of finding the right talent. With Canada’s multicultural workforce, and more immigrants arriving every day, employers have the opportunity to tap into an increasingly diverse talent pool. But with workers from so many backgrounds, and many different religions, questions arise: What happens when employers find themselves faced with requests to make accommodations for various religious practices? What role does religion play in the workplace? The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects the public’s right to religion and religious expression. In addition, provincial human rights codes recognize the right to be free from discrimination on a number of grounds, including creed and religion. This protection from discrimination extends to employers, public service providers and educational institutions. Hiring decisions should not be made based on a candidate’s faith, practice of religious observances or the need for accommodation based on that faith. Doing so contravenes human rights practices and the protection of the applicant. If religious accommodation is required, candidates should make their request clear on receipt of a conditional offer of employment. What is Religious Accommodation? Religious accommodation includes an individual’s right to observe or engage in a religious practice of his faith. Typically, these accommodations take place in the form of time away from work. However, they might also include the provision of facilities (such as a prayer room) and the request that alternate arrangements for mandatory events be made due to religious conflict, such as the timing of annual team meetings. The Duty to Accommodate Employers are required to accommodate an employee to the point of ‘undue hardship.’ Undue hardship is determined on a case-by-case basis, but the factors considered are: undue financial hardship, unmanageable disruption to the workforce and whether NETWORK O Spring 2011 42 O

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Network - Spring 2011

Network - Spring 2011
HRIA President’s Message
Legal Precedents Clarify Accommodation Procedure
Thank You!
Accommodation: Have a Plan and Stick to It
Disability Management and Duty to Accommodate: The Need for Good Documentation
Accommodating Disability, Not Bad Behaviour
Common “Mistakes” In Accommodation and How to Avoid Them
Case Studies: Managing Workplace Back and Neck Injuries
Accommodating Addictions in the Workplace
Duty to Accommodate – Employee Responsibilities
The Separation of Church and Work
When to Cut Sick Staff Off
The HR Office
Index of Advertisers

Network - Spring 2011