26 May How does the workplace protect employees with a mental illness?
Question for an Ontario Employment Lawyer: How does the workplace protect employees with a mental illness?
Normalizing mental health issues and preventing stigmatization has been a major topic in Ontario and in the workplace in recent years. Many people are becoming more aware about how well we react to events and resolve problems that have affected our separate and collective lives.
The Ontario Human Rights Code protects a disabled employee from being discriminated against in the workplace. Disabilities come in many forms, and according to the Ontario Human Rights Code, it covers those who have mental health disabilities and addictions.
The Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) deals with violence and harassment in the workplace and responds to mental health considerations due to the effects of this treatment. The OHSA protects and supports employees by requiring employers to have policies and programs on workplace violence and harassment issues, and information on these matters that are well understood by all employees.
What are some accommodations that are available?
Accommodations are handled on an individual basis, meaning that the employer will respond to an employee’s mental health issues depending on what help or support is needed. Employers may respond by suggesting a stress leave or creating a flexible work schedule. The goal is for the employer to respond in a way that will be most beneficial, within reasonable limits, for the employee.
What if the mental illness is produced by the work environment?
If an employee is experiencing chronic or traumatic mental stress due to the work environment, the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act (WSIA) can offer benefits to help these individuals better cope with this strain. This kind of mental stress deals with PTSD that can be common in workers like paramedics or corrections workers.
There are external resources that are available like ThinkMentalHealth.ca that sets out to help educate employers on how to prevent and respond to these matters. For employees, there are a wide array of resources like StressAssess that records stress levels so employees can evaluate their own stress and identify how the workplace may be triggering that stress. Another example is Firstrespondersfirst.ca which is for those monitoring PTSD.
If you have any questions about how to manage mental health issues that have developed from the workplace or how to respond to discrimination you may be experiencing, please contact KCY at LAW by filling in an online consultation request or contact us by phone at 905-639-0999 to book your consultation today.