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Human Rights, Health and Safety Laws

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Ontario’s Occupational Health & Safety Act, along with the Ontario Human Rights Code, mandates all employers to provide a workplace that is safe and healthy for employees. In addition, Ontario employers must accommodate their employees and prospective employees with respect to religious practices, family obligations, disabilities (including addictions) and other legally protected areas.

In regards to health and safety, the Act does provide some specific guidelines with respect to the elements of an acceptable Health & Safety Program; employers do have a lot of flexibility with respect to how they will ensure that healthy and safe work environment.

Because your organization is unique, your Health & Safety Program should be unique to your organization. How you show your organizational due diligence will depend on the type of business you are running, the number of employees, and many other factors that distinguish your organization from all others.

You must effectively communicate the elements and features of your Health & Safety Program to your employees. The most effective way to do that is to put it in writing.

Also, employers are expected to accommodate their employees’ human rights up to the point of “undue hardship”. The point of “undue hardship” will vary from organization to organization.

The Ontario Human Rights Code does not describe specifically how you are expected to accommodate your employees. In fact you, as an employer do have a lot of flexibility with respect to your policies and procedures related to accommodation.

However, you must be fair and consistent in the way you accommodate your employees. The only way to ensure consistency is, again, to put in writing.

Documentation needed to defend your company from employment-related lawsuits and avoid expensive litigation

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