Kathryn Bird Quoted in Benefits Canada on Employers Accommodating Employees Seeking Time Off for Religious Practices
Benefits Canada quoted Hicks Morley’s Kathryn Bird in a March 12, 2017 article titled “When do employers have to provide time off for religious practices?”
According to the Ontario’s Human Rights Commission website, “employers have a duty to accommodate an employee’s creed to the point of undue hardship, including by providing time off for religious holidays.” Undue hardship is a tricky concept, Kathryn notes, “the guiding light from the Supreme Court of Canada is that [undue hardship is] not [an] impossibility, but it’s close.”
The duty for employers to accommodate employees who are seeking time off for religious holy days, and to what extend it is required, is discussed throughout this article. “As Canada continues to become more diverse, employers are definitely seeing a need to study up on religious considerations” Kathryn said, noting that most mid- and large-sized employers will have employees from a variety of faiths. “And so employers are having to become more aware of the different faith practices and understanding that religious adherence is a protected ground under the human rights code and they need to accommodate that” she added. Kathryn encourages employers to have an accommodation policy in place that covers off religious considerations without requiring a separate policy.