The University has the legal duty to accommodate Members with disabilities, including chronic illness and conditions that fluctuate in severity, as required by the British Columbia Human Rights Code and by law. This means that the University must provide reasonable accommodation to Members who provide medical evidence, if such an accommodation will enable the Member to perform their work.
A Member who requires an accommodation in order to perform their duties may be granted partial or full leave with pay until the accommodation is in place, and the University will not unreasonably deny such a leave.
Accommodation plans are arranged through UVic’s Human Resources Office. You have a right to UVICFA representation at any stage in this process and we strongly encourage you to consult with us before commencing negotiations for an appropriate and reasonable accommodation plan.
Finding what is reasonable for both you and the University can be complex and challenging. It is important to note that the cost of an accommodation is not generally a test of whether it will be approved.
For more information on medical accommodation, please contact our Membership Services Office.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
- What is the purpose of accommodation for an illness, disability or injury?
Accommodations are designed to reduce or remove obstacles for employees with illness, disability or injury. They do not confer special privileges or reduce total workload.
- What is the University’s responsibility in providing medical accommodation to Members?
When medical documentation supports the need for an accommodation, the University is legally required to provide an accommodation that gives adequate support to the Member, except in cases where doing so creates undue financial hardship for the University as a whole or would have a severe operational impact on your Unit. If you have medical documentation of the need for an accommodation and are told there are no funds, you should contact the Membership Services Office immediately. [Collective Agreement Sections 39.41-39.57 relate to accommodation for a medical condition.]
- I need an accommodation for a health condition. What are the steps?
We recommend consulting first with a Faculty Association Membership Services Advisor, who can assist you throughout the process and help you negotiate an appropriate accommodation. If you wish, you are entitled to have a representative of the Faculty Association present at any discussions about accommodation.
The Collective Agreement states that you should discuss your needs with your supervisor. You and your supervisor will then consult with a Human Resources Work-Life Consultant.
You should expect to provide medical documentation from a licensed physician, nurse practitioner or counselor, depending on the nature of your request. Such documentation may be required to confirm the need for accommodation and to help with determining the appropriate accommodation(s). Your initial documentation need not come from a medical specialist, but the University has the right to request documentation from a medical specialist if they choose.
- What are examples of types of accommodations?
Accommodations are designed on a case-by-case basis and vary depending on the medical documentation, your individual needs, and the nature of your work. The following list represents only a few examples of the various types of accommodation that may be implemented.
EQUIPMENT: Some accommodations relate to equipment. For example, medical documentation may indicate the need for a standing work station in your office or an ergonomic chair in your classroom.
TIMETABLE: Some accommodations relate to scheduling. For example, some medical conditions may be more easily managed if your teaching is scheduled at a particular time of day, or if you are teaching no more than one class per day.
ASSIGNMENTS: Some accommodations relate to teaching or committee assignments. For example, it may be more sustainable for you to teach courses with which you are already familiar, rather than to develop new ones outside your field of specialty. Similarly, it may be more sustainable for you to serve on committees that spread activities throughout the term rather than working to deadlines.
When medical documentation indicates the need to reduce intense periods of grading activity during the term, TAs, caps on enrollment, or assignment of smaller courses can help achieve that goal.
REBUNDLING: If there are portions of the job that you cannot perform on a sustainable basis due to illness, disability, or injury and that cannot be accommodated otherwise, the University is required to “rebundle” work assignments by substituting sustainable tasks for unsustainable tasks, as long as such rebundling does not fundamentally redefine your job. Rebundling does not reduce your regular FTE status and is not intended to reduce workload; rather, it rearranges the components of the workload to make your regular FTE status sustainable. In some cases, administration may be substituted for teaching when appropriate documentation is provided. Such rebundling now falls in the Collective Agreement under the term “alternative workload. [See Sections 13.25-13.40.] However, while alternative workload requests for non-medical reasons may be declined, alternative workloads for medical reasons must be granted to the point of undue hardship if the medical condition cannot be accommodated otherwise.
- I would prefer a different accommodation from the one proposed. What do I do?
The accommodation the University offers does not have to be the best accommodation or the accommodation you and your medical team prefer, but it must have a reasonable chance of providing sufficient support. If you and your medical team do not believe the proposed plan has a reasonable chance of providing sufficient support, there are provisions within the Collective Agreement that give you the ability to appeal and, if necessary, to have an independent consultant develop an alternate plan. We strongly recommend that you seek the assistance of the Faculty Association if you are appealing a proposed accommodation.
- I do not have a regular medical practitioner. Can a practitioner who does not know me well provide the necessary documentation for an accommodation?
- How long can I have an accommodation?
You can have an accommodation as long as your medical condition requires it. For indefinite needs, the accommodation plan is likely to include a clause that specifies when, how, and for how long the accommodation may be renewed (usually on an annual basis). Updated medical information will likely be required for renewal.
If your accommodation was initially for a limited duration but you do not recover as quickly as expected, you should be able to obtain ongoing accommodation with updated medical information.
- Who knows of the accommodation? What information is confidential?
After you have agreed to an accommodation plan, the Work Life Consultant will forward a copy of the plan to you, your supervisor, the Dean or University Librarian, and the Faculty Association.
The accommodation plan is included in your Personnel File and is considered confidential.
Diagnoses and disabilities are confidential and should not be discussed without your consent.