The Ontario Human Rights Commission (the “Commission”) recently released a policy statement regarding the medical documentation to be provided by an employee when disability-related accommodation requests are made (the “Policy Statement”). The Policy Statement was released in follow-up to the Commission’s Policy on ableism and discrimination based on disability, which was released in June 2016. The Commission indicated that it had become aware that there was confusion amongst employers regarding the type and scope of medical information to be provided to support an accommodation request. The Policy Statement seeks to clarify the type and scope of medical information that can be requested by employers.
The Commission outlined that the following types of medical information may appropriately be requested by an employer to support an accommodation request:
- that the person has a disability
- the limitations or needs associated with the disability
- whether the person can perform the essential duties or requirements of the job with or without accommodation;
- the type of accommodation(s) that may be needed to allow the person to fulfill the essential duties or requirements of the job;
- regular updates about when the person is expected to return to work (if they are on leave).
The Commission further noted that employers generally do not have a right to know a person’s confidential medical information, including the cause of the disability, and the employee’s diagnosis, symptoms or treatment. However, the Commission noted that this otherwise confidential medical information may be required if it is related to the accommodation being sought, if the employee’s needs are complex, challenging or unclear, or if more information is needed.
The Commission’s Policy Statement reminds employers that the information requested must be the least intrusive of the person’s privacy as possible while still giving the organization enough information to make an informed decision about the accommodation requested.