There has never been a time when organizations did not have employees who faced challenges arising from their care obligations to family members. Whether the employee is required to deal with children or parents it can create conflicts with work obligations and the question has always been how to balance the competing rights and interests of the parties.
Over the past few years, however, we have seen an increasing number of cases where those competing rights and interests have ended up before human rights tribunals and labour arbitrators as employees rely on the “family status” protection offered by human rights legislation to protect their interests.
The pressures on employees arising from obligations to family members is only increasing due to changing demographics and this has been documented in a recent study by Professors Linda Duxbury and Christopher Higgins of the business schools at Carleton University and Western University respectively. At the same time there has been reporting in the mainstream media about recent legal decisions which have only increased the profile and popular knowledge of this issue amongst employees generally.
I recently spoke at the Siskinds LLP Labour and Employment Client Conference on this issue and I’m pleased to provide a copy of my paper here. It includes links to the study by Professors Duxbury and Higgins and these provide important background material with which every proactive employer should be familiar.