It is an employer’s responsibility to create and maintain a barrier-free environment to ensure the full participation of all employees. Workplace accommodation looks at maximizing the performance of all workers by removing the barriers that may limit them in their job. In Canada employers have a “duty to accommodate”.
Duty to Accommodate refers to the obligation of an employer to take appropriate steps to eliminate disadvantage to employees, or prospective employees, resulting from a rule, practice or physical barrier that has or may have an adverse impact on persons with disabilities. In order to establish an exception to the duty to accommodate, it must be established that accommodation of the needs of an individual affected would impose undue hardship on the employer who would have to accommodate those needs, considering health, safety and cost.
The Public Service Commission has established a “Diversity Accommodation Fund” to assist Departments, Agencies, Boards and Commissions attract, develop, and retain employees with disabilities, and to ensure that any work-related barriers are removed. While research has shown the actual cost of hiring a person with a disability are very minimal this fund has been established to ensure that all candidates with disabilities can be considered for potential employment with the Nova Scotia Public Service., regardless of any costs that this may impose on a Department, Agency, Board or Commission.
The Diversity Accommodation Fund is a central envelop of funding administered by the Diversity Unit, Strategic Support Services to assist Departments, Agencies, Boards and Commissions remove barriers and ensure equitable consideration for job applicants with disabilities, whose employment success may be contingent upon acquiring employment related supports. While some job accommodations have little or no cost associated with them, such as modified work hours, some accommodations do have financial implications. The intent of this fund is to provide financial support to Departments, Agencies, Boards or Commissions in order to eliminate concern over the need to access funding to support the hiring of a qualified applicant with a disability.
If a successful job applicant identifies, in collaboration with their employer, that she/he needs some job accommodations in order to perform the duties of the position, the application can access support from the Diversity Accommodation Fund.
Everyone’s situation will be unique, so there will be no definitive list of eligible accommodations. Examples of eligible accommodations will include, but will not be limited to:
Each request will be assessed on a case by case basis and every effort will be made to support the accommodation of prospective employees. All acquisitions must follow Government procurement policies.
The fund will support the employment of casual, term and permanent full-time or part-time employees. The Public Service Commission will expect the casual appointment to be at least 12 weeks in length.
Current employees of the Nova Scotia Public Service are entitled to be provided with reasonable accommodations. A training module is being developed to assist managers in understanding their responsibilities to accommodate their employees. The intent of the Diversity Accommodation Fund is to eliminate the initial barriers to employment. If an existing employee is experiencing vocational barriers that can be overcome through job accommodations, the Diversity Unit at the Public Service Commission will provide assistance, in partnership with the employee’s home Department, in supporting the employee’s situation. If disability accommodations are needed to support the career development or advancement of a current employee, you should contact the Diversity Unit to help develop an accommodation plan.
Medical related devices (i.e., wheelchairs, medications, etc.) are not covered. Automobile conversions and other transportation related needs are also not within the capability of the Fund. Therapy (i.e., speech, physio, massage, etc) are not covered. Also, on-going costs that would be incurred year to year will not be eligible (i.e., attendant services). Major building renovations are the responsibility of the Department of Transportation and Public Works.