Position statement

A person with diabetes should be eligible for employment in any occupation for which he or she is individually qualified.

In being considered for employment in safety-sensitive positions, a person with diabetes has the right to be assessed for specific job duties on his or her own merits based on reasonable standards applied consistently.

Employers have the duty to accommodate employees with diabetes unless the employer can show it to cause undue hardship to the organization.

Definition

Undue hardship arises as part of the legislative requirement that employers must change workplace policies, rules, practices and operations that result in discrimination, and provide individual accommodation unless it would lead to “undue” or unreasonable hardship on the part of the employer.

The question of what constitutes undue hardship varies; however, courts have made it clear that employers must expect to experience some cost in eliminating barriers and providing accommodation. Questions arise over when the threshold of undue hardship has been reached. The Canadian Human Rights Act provides that undue hardship must be assessed considering “health, safety and cost.” The mere fact that some cost, financial or otherwise, will be incurred is insufficient to establish undue hardship. (Source: A Place for All: A Guide to Creating an Inclusive Workplace, The Canadian Human Rights Commission)

Background and rationale

People with diabetes may face discrimination in the workplace simply because they have diabetes. Most people with diabetes can perform their job duties with minimal accommodation by the employer, such as nutrition breaks, time for glucose level monitoring, appropriate area for glucose monitoring, and/or injection of insulin.

Employers have terminated, demoted or denied positions to employees with diabetes without having adequate knowledge of the disease and without reasonable investigation into individual circumstances. Individual assessment tools tailored specifically for the job circumstances and developed jointly by the employer, employee, and health care practitioner can minimize such occurrences.

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