In Alberta, employees who are caregivers to family members are protected by the Alberta Human Rights Act. Section 7 of the Alberta Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination due to family status. This means employers have the legal obligation to accommodate employees if at all possible. Family status protection includes those who are obligated to care for disabled, severely ill or elderly family members. The Alberta Human Rights Commission states:
"An employer is required to make reasonable accommodations in situations where marital status or family status may interfere with an employee's ability to perform his or her duties in the workplace. However, if it can be shown that an employee cannot perform his or her duties because of family or marital status, and the requirements of the job to be performed are shown to be a bona fide occupational requirements, or if making accommodation would cause the employer undue hardship, the employer may refuse to employ, may re-deploy, or, if all else fails, may consider dismissing that employee."
Recent Canadian court cases have suggested the significance in accomodating employees. Toronto based lawfirm Turnpenney Milne states:
"[There is] significant responsibility on employers to engage, work with, and assess the needs of employees with family obligations. Given this onus and the serious consequences of a breach, employers would be well advised to consult with counsel when face with family status/accommodation scenarios."
Additional Resources to Help You Understand the Issues
(Vanier Institute of the Family, 2013)
This webinar the Vanier Institute of the Family reviews human rights law in the workplace, including important new legal cases in Canada. The presentation outlines principles relevant to accommodation and suggests sample policies and offers organizational guidance.
(Canadian Human Rights Commission, 2014)
This guide provides tips for developing accommodation solutions that are in harmony with human rights law. It outlines the rights and responsibilities of the employee, the employer, unions and/or employee representatives.
(Government of Alberta, 2014)
Learn more about Compassionate Care Leave entitlements for your employees, and Employment Standards Regulation as outlined by the Alberta government. This leave is compatible with Compassionate Care and Employment Insurance benefits offerred by the Federal government.