Do we have to modify schedules to accommodate an employee?

The answer is sometimes yes. Within the past decade human rights law began to include ‘family status’ as a protected ground, which is usually defined as the status of being in a parent or child relationship. 

Courts and tribunals have offered various opinions as to what this actually means. Generally speaking though, employees may require accommodation if they have a duty of care to either minor-age children or an elderly parent that may interfere with their work schedule. Different ruling bodies have implemented different standards of responsibility, but if an employee needs to take their young child to a doctor’s appointment and there is no one else available to take them, you as an employer will likely be required to accommodate. These accommodations do not need to mean paid time off – they can take the form of unpaid time, lieu time etc. – but you cannot penalize an employee for taking that time for their family needs.