Childcare obligations clarified in federal decision

4-part test should provide guidance for employers
By Sarah Dobson
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 06/23/2014

A recent decision by the Federal Court of Appeal has clarified some of the grey areas when it comes to family status accommodation.

The case involved Fiona Ann Johnstone, an employee at the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). Prior to returning to work from her first maternity leave, she asked for an accommodation to her work schedule at Toronto Pearson International Airport. Instead of variable shifts that met the hourly requirement to be considered full-time, she sought a fixed work schedule on a full-time basis.

While the CBSA had accommodated some employees who had medical issues or religious beliefs with static shifts, it refused to do the same for workers with childcare obligations on the ground it had no legal duty to do so. And while it did allow employees with childcare needs to have fixed schedules, they had fewer hours and were considered part-time.