Employment Law

Ontario teachers strike and taking kids to work – Global News

ontario teachers strike

Ontario Teachers Strike, Childcare and Employees

The Ontario teachers strike is forcing working parents across the province to find last-minute childcare alternatives for their children.

The following teachers and their unions will be holding strikes in the coming week:

  • Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (Toronto, York Region and Ottawa-Carleton boards) on Monday, January 20, 2020;
  • Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation and Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association on Tuesday, January 21 2020

The Ontario government is offering to pay $25 to $60 per day to parents who need to find childcare options for their offspring. Unfortunately, many affected families may find it difficult to secure last-minute arrangements for their kids.

What options do parents have if they are unable to find a daycare or sitter for their child during a teacher strike in Ontario?

WATCH: Partner Jon Pinkus was an employment lawyer on CP24 where he discussed employee rights during the strike.

Employee rights during an Ontario teachers strike

Under the Ontario Human Rights Code, an employer must accommodate an employee’s family status.

“Family status is a protected human right in every province and territory across Canada. It is part of the Human Rights Code,” employment lawyer Lior Samfiru, partner at Samfiru Tumarkin LLP, told Global News’ Meghan Collie.

Caregiving needs and obligations are a key component of family status. An employer has a duty to accommodate an employee’s caregiving needs. An employer does not have to make accommodations if they result in an undue hardship on the employer.

Can I bring my child to work if I can’t find childcare during a strike?

You may be able to bring your child to work if you are unable to find another solution. However, your ability to bring your child to work during an Ontario teachers strike will depend on where you work, and your employer’s ability to accommodate.

Some workplaces, such as a larger traditional office environment, may be able to accommodate children easier than others.

Safety is a chief concern. For instance, a factory assembly line or fast food restaurant are not safe childcare options.

Children are known to disrupt their surrounding environment, and therefore require constant supervision. For smaller workplaces, these distractions may interfere with work productivity, making accommodation by the employer difficult.

Ask your employer for permission to bring your child to work. If there is a past history of the employer allowing parents to bring their kids to work, you may get approval to do so in this situation.

“Instead of allowing you to bring your child to work, your employer may offer you accommodation in another form, like working from home or a day off. It’s not necessarily up to the employee to decide the best form of accommodation,” Samfiru told GlobalNews.ca

“The employer gets to decide that, as long as the need — which is to care for the child — is met.”

My employer won’t let me take my child to work, or take time off work. What should I do?

Employees must do their best to find childcare options before seeking accommodation from their employer. If you exhaust your options, your employer must comply with your request, unless they can make a case for undue hardship.

If your employer denies accommodation, they are in violation of the Human Rights Code. You can file a human rights complaint with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO).

Samfiru told GlobalNews.ca that for individuals who wish to remain employed by the company, a human rights complaint is an unrealistic option.

“In my experience, a lot of employers end up getting away with not providing accommodation for that reason,” he said.

“There’s no easy way for an employee to hold the employer accountable.”

How a Human Rights Lawyer can help

If your employer refuses to accommodate your childcare needs, or a physical or psychological disability, you should contact the Ontario human rights lawyers at Samfiru Tumarkin LLP. We have the experience and expertise required to hold your employer accountable.

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