Parental Rights in Ontario: Balancing Work and Childcare

Parental Rights in Ontario: Balancing Work and Childcare

Families are the cornerstone of communities. By extension, the value of strong families extends to the health of a country overall and has therefore increasingly come to the attention of the international community. The United Nations General Assembly (“UN”) has recognized the importance of celebrating families with the adoption of the International Year of the Family and the International Day of Families. Initiated by the UN in 2012, June 1st is the Global Day of Parents, and provides an opportunity to celebrate parents and the role they play in strengthening communities and the next generation.

How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected parents and their childcare responsibilities?

Following the COVID-19 pandemic, the impact on parents has been especially difficult. Parents have become adaptable by necessity. Rolling lockdowns and strict school attendance policies have often left parents in the lurch as they attempt to find childcare at a moment’s notice. While fortunate parents have been able to rely on their own family and support network, effective employers have also put in place policies to help support parents in the workplace. We have seen ongoing remote work policies, or flexible days or hours, which all assist in accommodating parents in the workplace.

The renewed emphasis on family friendly workplaces has been a notable outcome of the pandemic. While not all workplaces are as accommodating as others, the awareness of an employer’s possible duty to accommodate its parent-employees has spread.

Can employers discriminate against employees based on their childcare needs?

An employer is required to accommodate a worker on the basis of family status, which includes childcare responsibilities, to the point of undue hardship. Undue hardship will be different in each case, and therefore requires give and take from both the employer and employee to find a reasonable solution. Parents are now more empowered to request accommodation and flexibility in order to juggle their responsibilities, while still meeting the needs of the job.

If your employer has refused to make a reasonable accommodation for your childcare needs, you may have been subject to discrimination. You should speak with experienced employment counsel to determine whether there is an obligation to accommodate, and to understand your rights.

How can employment lawyers assist both employees and employers regarding parental rights in Ontario?

To better understand your employment rights and explore the viability of a claim, we encourage employees to seek legal advice. Equally, we encourage employers & employees to speak with a lawyer to understand their obligations and parental rights in Ontario, or any other employment concerns. We at Whitten & Lublin are happy to provide insight and advice into your specific circumstances. If you are looking for employment lawyers and would like more information about what Whitten & Lublin can do for you, please contact us online or by phone at (416) 640-2667 today.

Author – Rachel Patten