Workplace Accommodation and AODA Training

By Ramneek Pooni (Grievance Officer, QUFA)

Welcome to a new academic year!

Grievance work makes up a large chunk of what your union does for you. The purpose of the Grievance Corner is to make you aware of processes, issues, trends, and anything else that might be helpful or interesting. To that end, please feel free to send in topic ideas and feedback. Remember that the grievance process is a confidential one, so that the content of the Corner will have to be limited in order to take that into account. You will find archived Corners and other grievance information here.

Because you will likely be completing training this year mandated by the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA), this Corner focuses on disability.

Even statistically speaking, many QUFA Members have disabilities. Some are visible, others not. Some are continuous, others episodic. Some require workplace accommodation, others do not.

If a person’s disability requires workplace accommodation (modifications to allow people to complete their job responsibilities), then the employer is obliged to accommodate it to the point of undue hardship. The employer here is Queen’s University, not a department or a faculty, and undue hardship is a pretty high bar. The employee also has obligations, such as asking for workplace accommodation and submitting corroborative documentation from a health care professional to Human Resources where it is kept confidential in an area designated for such documentation. An employer is not allowed to guess or stereotype an employee in figuring out workplace accommodation, so it is critically important that an employee who needs accommodation play an active role, including asserting the need. The union’s role is to facilitate this process by assisting the employee and, if necessary, by negotiating with the employer about how to vary the Collective Agreement to allow for appropriate and reasonable accommodation. (For some general information, please see Know Your CA on Illness and Disability , the person at Human Resources is now Sydney Downey and no longer Shannon Jones.)

This past year, the University administration initiated a couple processes to meet its obligation of ensuring that its information for workplace accommodations is current. First, requests for updated information were sent to Members during the winter term, before teaching and service were assigned for this academic year. My hope is that the workplace accommodations put in place or updated last spring will ease entry to the fall term for all involved. Second, all employees were asked whether they needed to supply information in connection with the Individual Emergency Response Plans, to let supervisors and security know where someone might require assistance in evacuating a building see Individualized Emergency Response Plans.

Another employer obligation is that all employees of Queen’s University, including QUFA Members, must complete mandated training. The next round of training, Accessible Instruction for Educators, is currently being developed by the Equity Office and will likely be launched in the autumn. Altogether you will be expected to complete four training modules to comply with the AODA legislation. They are:

  • Accessible Customer Service
  • Human Rights
  • Accessibility in the Classroom
  • Integrated Accessibility Standards

You may recall completing the on-line module for Accessible Customer Service. (Remember that controversy about students being called customers? The AODA applies to all job sectors, not just universities, so the wording jarred many of you.) If you have not completed this module already, and about 30% of QUFA Members have not, please do so as soon as possible. Links for it and for Human Rights 101 training are found on the Accessibility Training webpage.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me or anyone else in the QUFA office.

Ramneek Pooni can be reached at

This Grievance Corner was taken from the September, 2013 edition of QUFA Voices.