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Employers and their staff's child-care requests

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Employers and their staff's child-care requests

Postby grammafreddy » Feb 23rd, 2013, 9:45 pm

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/201 ... -life.html

Employers told they must accommodate staff's child-care requests
The Canadian Press
Posted: Feb 5, 2013 8:28 PM ET
Last Updated: Feb 5, 2013 10:16 PM ET

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A recent federal court ruling says workplaces are obliged to accommodate reasonable childcare-related requests from their employees. The ruling came in a case involving shift work. (iStock)

Employers who once believed family matters have no business in the workplace will have to start rethinking their position if they hope to stay on the right side of Canada's evolving employment laws, experts suggested Tuesday.

A landmark federal court decision that states workplaces are obliged to accommodate reasonable childcare-related requests from their employees signals significant changes ahead for the country's employment law landscape, lawyers said.

The decision handed down by Justice Leonard Mandamin explicitly states that requests for childcare accommodations stem from genuine need and are not simply the product of lifestyle choices.

Mandamin's ruling was made in the context of parents grappling with irregular shift work, but experts suggest the ruling could pave the way for much more broad based discussion on the role family life plays in the workplace.

Stuart Rudner, employment law specialist with Miller Thomson LLP, said the decision makes a bold statement about the country's legal landscape.

Disability, gender and religion are no longer the primary basis for human rights complaints, he said, adding family-related issues are bound to gain more prominence in the coming years.

"This is likely the next frontier," Rudner said in a telephone interview. "(The ruling) does set the precedent now that confirmed what many of us suspected, which is that employers are susceptible to these complaints."

Mandamin's ruling, delivered late last week, upheld a successful human rights case launched by Ottawa resident Fiona Johnstone.

Shift work at heart of case

Both Johnstone and her husband worked as full-time employees of the Canada Border Services Agency, putting in a series of irregular, rotating shifts before their first child was born in 2003.

Johnstone asked the agency to accommodate her childcare needs by allowing her to work more stable shifts. The agency declined, saying the only way to maintain a static schedule was to cut back to part-time hours.

Johnstone filed a complaint that ultimately came before the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal in 2010.

The tribunal ruled in her favour, saying the agency had discriminated against Johnstone on the basis of her family status.

Mandamin's ruling supported the tribunal's findings.

"The CBSA allowed individualized assessments of employees seeking accommodation on medical or religious grounds but responded to Ms. Johnstone on the basis of a blanket policy that required her to forfeit her status as a full-time employee," Mandamin wrote.

"The CBSA's policy was based on the arbitrary assumption that the need for accommodation on the basis of family obligations was merely the result of choices that individuals make, rather than legitimate need."

Elder care cases could be next


Canada's demographics alone are a factor in the emerging trend, Rudner said. Parents are not only having to care for their children, but will increasingly be required to care for aging and ailing members of the older generations.

Rudner predicted cases involving elder care will surface in court before too long.

But the ruling that may seem encouraging to thousands of struggling employees does not represent an unqualified victory, he said. The decision forces employers to accommodate family status requests up to the point of "undue hardship," a concept he said is left loosely defined.

"The courts and tribunals want to maintain discretion to look at every individual case," he said. "But the most important factor in determining undue hardship is probably going to be cost. A large company with more significant financial resources will probably be expected to be more flexible than a small business."

The ruling also leaves the onus on employees to prove that they have made reasonable efforts to sort out their family obligations before requesting help from their employers, Rudner said.

That, child care experts say, is easier said than done.

Winnipeg's Discovery Children's Centre is one of only a handful of programs that offer child care services for parents contending with non-traditional work hours.

The flex program — which remains open until 12:30 a.m. on weekdays and 7:30 p.m. on Saturdays — is in high demand from the more than 900 people on the centre's waiting list, said program director Donna Freeman.

The logistical challenges of staffing such a program while remaining within provincial licensing guidelines, however, mean the service can't be offered as widely as families might like to see.

"That one program is more work administratively than the other 240 spaces in our centre," she said. "But we know that it's needed in the community, so that's why we do it."
© The Canadian Press, 2013


This might make some employers think twice about hiring women.

Since when was it an employer's job to solve a staff member's personal issues? The company didn't have those children so why should they be responsible for them? If a business's costs go up because of this, prices will rise, too. Or the employer may let some staff go - women with children first, of course, since they are the ones creating the problem.
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Re: Employers and their staff's child-care requests

Postby SmokeOnTheWater » Feb 23rd, 2013, 10:00 pm

Both Johnstone and her husband worked as full-time employees of the Canada Border Services Agency, putting in a series of irregular, rotating shifts before their first child was born in 2003.

Johnstone asked the agency to accommodate her childcare needs by allowing her to work more stable shifts. The agency declined, saying the only way to maintain a static schedule was to cut back to part-time hours.

-------------------

What I find odd is that it's the mother who asked to work stable shifts. What if the father did ?
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Re: Employers and their staff's child-care requests

Postby Carmencat » Feb 23rd, 2013, 10:13 pm

So of course what will happen is that the employer will have to rely on the staff who do not have childcare issues - ie. either do not have children or children are grown - to fill in the hours that those employees who have childcare issues do not want to work.

As far as I am concerned this is discrimination against those who chose not to have kids or have managed to raise their kids without inconveniencing their fellow workers. If I was an employee in this postion I would file a Human Rights complaint of my own. :purefury:
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Re: Employers and their staff's child-care requests

Postby logicalview » Feb 24th, 2013, 6:51 am

What a surprise. A government worker didn't get their way, so they ran to the corrupt busy-bodies at the HRC's, who magically ruled in their favour. Shocker. Throw in a left wing judge, and now employers, including non government employers, have to add more crap to their list of stupid stuff to worry about. All because one border guard didn't like their shift rotation. This is how bureaucrats and busy bodies add more and more useless complexity to our lives, little by little, every day.
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Re: Employers and their staff's child-care requests

Postby fluffy » Feb 24th, 2013, 7:10 am

My son and his wife (no kids yet) both work for a "progressive" employer at the coast. Onsite child care, fitness facilities and a pet friendly workplace makes for a happy staff, and a happy staff is a productive staff. Of course this wouldn't work for smaller staffs, but it's nice to see that some employers are looking at things in a new light.
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Re: Employers and their staff's child-care requests

Postby logicalview » Feb 24th, 2013, 7:27 am

-fluffy- wrote:My son and his wife (no kids yet) both work for a "progressive" employer at the coast. Onsite child care, fitness facilities and a pet friendly workplace makes for a happy staff, and a happy staff is a productive staff. Of course this wouldn't work for smaller staffs, but it's nice to see that some employers are looking at things in a new light.


What do you mean "pet friendly "? I've been in offices where dogs are allowed to run amuk all day thanks to "progressive" policies and it may make for happy dog owners, but it pisses everyone else off, especially when you are trying to eat lunch and picking dog hair out of your sandwich or trying to avoid dog saliva on every table. Another example of one person's choice becoming everyone else's problem.
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Re: Employers and their staff's child-care requests

Postby fluffy » Feb 24th, 2013, 7:34 am

I can't say for sure, but I would assume that "problem" dogs would have about the same prospects as a "problem" employee, shape up or ship out. Don't hear much of any downside from my son as their dog is a gem.

The point I was trying to make is that some recognition of an employee's needs beyond a simple paycheque generally pays off in morale and productivity.
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Re: Employers and their staff's child-care requests

Postby logicalview » Feb 24th, 2013, 7:43 am

-fluffy- wrote:I can't say for sure, but I would assume that "problem" dogs would have about the same prospects as a "problem" employee, shape up or ship out. Don't hear much of any downside from my son as their dog is a gem.

The point I was trying to make is that some recognition of an employee's needs beyond a simple paycheque generally pays off in morale and productivity.


That is a great point.
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Re: Employers and their staff's child-care requests

Postby jennylives » Feb 24th, 2013, 11:12 am

grammafreddy wrote:This might make some employers think twice about hiring women.

Since when was it an employer's job to solve a staff member's personal issues? The company didn't have those children so why should they be responsible for them? If a business's costs go up because of this, prices will rise, too. Or the employer may let some staff go - women with children first, of course, since they are the ones creating the problem.


Why are women with children the ones creating the problem? Don't men have children too?
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Re: Employers and their staff's child-care requests

Postby hobbyguy » Feb 24th, 2013, 12:00 pm

There really isn't anything new in this.

It simply codifies good management practice, which is to make sure that your employees are looked after as best you can. Lots of times when setting up shift schedules in a 24 hr operation, child care or other family issues were taken into account. Even with union shift rotation clauses we found ways to make it work. It gets more complicated with families with both parents working, but there is usually a way. What helped a lot was that many older workers would help out by working shifts that workers with young children couldn't accommodate. It just makes sense, if you create a cooperative working environment, the employees will cooperate with the company's goals.
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Re: Employers and their staff's child-care requests

Postby grammafreddy » Feb 24th, 2013, 12:07 pm

grammafreddy wrote:This might make some employers think twice about hiring women.

Since when was it an employer's job to solve a staff member's personal issues? The company didn't have those children so why should they be responsible for them? If a business's costs go up because of this, prices will rise, too. Or the employer may let some staff go - women with children first, of course, since they are the ones creating the problem.

jennylives wrote:Why are women with children the ones creating the problem? Don't men have children too?


Does your S/O stay home to look after the kids when they are sick and not you? (generic female you) If there is a child care issue (ie babysitter is ill or can't take them for some reason), is it your S/O who scrambles to find an alternate so both of you can still go to work in an hour's time? In a two-parent, male/female household, who looks after the kids more often when they are not able to go to a sitter's/school or solves the child care "problems"?

To be fair, in a single dad situation, it would be the dad that it all falls to, but in my experience, it is just about always the mom in a two-parent family who looks after the child care issues, and who stays home from work if there's a problem.
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Re: Employers and their staff's child-care requests

Postby flamingfingers » Feb 24th, 2013, 1:25 pm

hobbyguy wrote:There really isn't anything new in this.

It simply codifies good management practice, which is to make sure that your employees are looked after as best you can. Lots of times when setting up shift schedules in a 24 hr operation, child care or other family issues were taken into account. Even with union shift rotation clauses we found ways to make it work. It gets more complicated with families with both parents working, but there is usually a way. What helped a lot was that many older workers would help out by working shifts that workers with young children couldn't accommodate. It just makes sense, if you create a cooperative working environment, the employees will cooperate with the company's goals.


Absolutely 100% correct!!

It's about time that employers realized that simply because they provide a paycheque does not mean they own body and soul of their employee. As fluffy said, "some recognition of an employee's needs beyond a simple paycheque generally pays off in morale and productivity."
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Re: Employers and their staff's child-care requests

Postby grammafreddy » Feb 24th, 2013, 1:40 pm

Good grief, Charlie Brown.

You are hired to do a job. You get paid to do that job. The boss didn't hire your whole family and their "issues". Expecting the company to provide special fluffy stuff beyond doing your job is nuts but fits with today's entitled and me, me, ME mentality.

I will agree that when an employer voluntarily provides more, it is nice ... but to think it is owed to you or that an employer should be forced to provide extra benefits is just wrong, IMO. This thinking will sink a lot of smaller businesses and will certainly drive up the cost of doing business (= prices).

At what point do people decide to be adults and be responsible for their own actions and offspring?
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Re: Employers and their staff's child-care requests

Postby albertabound » Feb 24th, 2013, 1:57 pm

:ohmygod: Typical govt, take care of me attitude. Me attitude has gone tooooooooooooooo far time to stop this nonsense. :skippingsheep: :skippingsheep: :skippingsheep: :skippingsheep: :skippingsheep: :skippingsheep: :skippingsheep:
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Re: Employers and their staff's child-care requests

Postby jennylives » Feb 24th, 2013, 2:05 pm

We don't live in a bubble. The attitude of you're on your own causes more harm than good. It sounds great on paper but it just doesn't work in our current society. When we work together more gets done that benefits all of us. If we support working parents it allows them to contribute back to society in a productive way. It is very difficult to find care for children, let alone good or affordable care. It's hard enough when you work during school hours alone. I can't imagine the dread of finding care for shift work and the half a year when kids are out of school. We should be doing everything we can to support productive workers.
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