Both employers and employees have individual duties to accommodate each other during unique situations like the current COVID-19 pandemic. For example, employers cannot discriminate against employees who have family status—it could be considered a Human Rights Violation—and employees, with families who are dependent upon them, must still do their best to work with their employer to come up with effective solutions that work for both parties while fulfilling their family obligations.

In this article we’ll cover some of the details you should know as an employee or employer if you are struggling with a workplace situation as a result of family status and COVID-19 circumstances.

Balancing Childcare Demands of a Parent With Their Employment Obligations

COVID caused many parents to work from home or rearrange their schedules to care for children who are at home due to school closures or because of possible exposure.

Some employees have had to take time off from work without pay. Parents are having difficulty balancing work and family demands. Some employers expect their parent-employees to work their pre-pandemic schedules. This can result in conflict between employer and employee.

Family Status Discriminations & Your Legal Rights

The Alberta Human Rights Act says that an employer can’t discriminate against someone because of their family status. “Family status” means the status of being related to another person by blood, marriage or adoption.


If you’re an employer or recently-terminated employee seeking legal guidance regarding the Alberta Human Rights Act, we can help.

The lawyers at Ahlstrom Wright have extensive experience dealing with employment law in Alberta, Nunavut and the NWT.
Contact Ahlstrom Wright for more information.


A Legal Obligation to Accommodate – Duties of Employers and Employees

Employers must accommodate the obligations that employees have to their family members to the point of undue hardship. Employees must find solutions which enable their return to regular work demands as much as possible. This involves finding creative solutions and working collaboratively with their employer.  Solutions could include working remotely, modifying work hours, hiring in-home childcare, or taking a paid leave. Both sides must be flexible and prepared to accept alternative arrangements that meet the needs of each party.

COVID-19 has had unprecedented impacts on work routines and has challenged both employers and employees in coming to mutually agreeable solutions. Employers should be sensitive to employees’ family obligations, while employees should be open to flexible and creative solutions to maintaining business viability.

Whether you are an employer trying to accommodate an employee’s changing work schedule, or an employee whose employer is refusing to meet your legitimate needs, you should seek legal advice.

If you have questions about your employment circumstances, Ahlstrom Wright’s lawyers have extensive experience in employment law. Contact Ahlstrom Wright to discuss your current situation.