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Employers Workplace accommodations Developing effective workplace accommodations – Survivor, healthcare provider and employer perspectives

Developing effective workplace accommodations – Survivor, healthcare provider and employer perspectives

Dr. Mary Stergiou-Kita

Dr. Mary Stergiou-Kita is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, University of Toronto, an Adjunct Scientist at the Institute of Work & Health, and an Affiliate Scientist at the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, University Health Network. Dr. Stergiou-Kita’s program of research focuses on developing tools that enhance work re-integration across populations, including cancer. She aims to bridge health and employment contexts, develop strategies that enhance workplace supports, clinical practice, and improve work outcomes. Dr. Stergiou-Kita has developed best-practice recommendations for determining work readiness and conducted research in the areas of workplace accommodations, workplace stigma, discrimination, and disclosure following cancer.

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Researchers recently interviewed cancer survivors, healthcare providers and employers. They frequently recommended the following types of accommodations for employees with cancer:

  • graduated return to work plans
  • flexible work schedules
  • modification of work duties
  • altered performance expectations
  • retraining
  • supports at the workplace
  • changes to physical work environments
  • provision of adaptive aids/technologies

Study participants identified the following processes as important to ensuring effective accommodations:

  • developing knowledge about accommodations
  • employers’ ability to accommodate
  • negotiating reasonable accommodations
  • customizing accommodations to individual employees
  • implementing and monitoring accommodation plans

Employers, healthcare providers and cancer survivors noted several challenges in making accommodations:

  • survivors’ fears about requesting accommodations
  • developing clear and specific accommodations
  • jobs where accommodations are difficult to make
  • strained relationships at work before the cancer diagnosis
  • insufficient or inflexible workplace policies
  • employer concerns about productivity and setting precedents by modifying duties

For more information on accommodating cancer survivors watch the video Developing Effective Workplace Accommodations – Survivor, Provider and Employer Perspectives Presentation by Mary Stergiou-Kita, PhD.

To learn about resources, strategies and approaches that employers can use to accommodate employees with disabilities, listen to the webinar Best Practices in Accommodating Employees in the Workplace, presented by Employment and Social Development Canada in collaboration with Canadian Business SenseAbility. (Free WebEx software may be required.)