The holidays are just around the corner. We are in the middle of a pandemic. While there may not be in-person celebrations this year, and many employees are working remotely, employers continue to have obligations to their employees, such as providing a safe workplace to all employees and accommodating employees up to the point of undue hardship.
Employers Obligation to Provide a Safe Work Environment
The obligation to provide a safe workplace includes providing a work environment that is free from harassment, bullying and discrimination, which can occur online or virtually. Employers should also be mindful that employees may need to be accommodated for reasons related to their mental health, which may be exacerbated in light of the pandemic and given that many individuals will not be able to visit their loved ones for the holidays.
Employers’ Duty to Inquire
In addition, the duty to accommodate employees up to the point of undue hardship is not only triggered when an employee requests accommodation; in certain situations, employers may have a duty to inquire. For example, if an employee has been acting out of character, it would be a good idea to check in on them instead of simply imposing discipline to “manage” their performance.