Family status: What should be accommodated?

Workplace rules may apply equally to all employees but could discriminate against those with pressing family obligations
By Thomas Gorsky and Stephen Shore
|Canadian Employment Law Today

Family demographics are changing across Canada. According to Statistics Canada, single-parent families have doubled in the last four decades, representing nearly 16 per cent of families in 2006. Along with more two-working-parent families, an aging population, a growing need for elder care and an increasing awareness of caring for the disabled, this can contribute to increased stress on employees and employers alike to find the right balance between work and home.

There are a multitude of considerations under the framework of family status accommodation. As with so many human rights issues, there are often no simple answers and each case must be considered on its own merits.

What is clear is an employer must be aware of these issues so if a family status question does arise it is identified promptly and addressed thoroughly. The British Columbia Court of Appeal in