One of ACFO-ACAF’s most important responsibilities is to support and advocate for members who have mental health challenges and need workplace accommodation.
As a Labour Relations Advisor, I thought it might be useful to draw on the hands-on experience of the Labour Relations team to create a brief guide to some strategies that may help ACFO-ACAF members with a mental health challenge with specific work-related concerns and accommodation needs.
Before discussing accommodation with your employer, the first step is to consult your doctor or medical practitioner to get advice on your functional abilities and any ongoing limitations. Treasury Board’s Functional Limitations form can be used as a guide for these discussions. In this consultation, it’s important to ask your doctor to confirm if your functional limitations are permanent or temporary, as that can affect your accommodation strategies.
Accommodation is tailored to the individual functional abilities of employees, so it is difficult to provide a comprehensive list of accommodation strategies. However, some examples of accommodation strategies for specific concerns include:
|Adaptability and flexibility||You may need adaptations to:
• Hours of work due to effects of medication or appointments
• Break times and length
• Redefine or restructure tasks according to your limits and strengths
• Work travel requirements
|Attention to detail and distraction||You may need adaptations to:
• Work area (for example, relocation or modifications to space to reduce distractions)
• Work equipment and tools (headphones for calming music or noise-cancelling equipment)
• Work location (teleworking from a more optimal environment)
• Break times and length when concentration declines
• How tasks are assigned (requesting instructions in writing for clarity and to retain detailed information)
• How you organize your work (breaking tasks into smaller segments or creating a checklist that includes each step of a task to be completed)
• Ensure regular, supportive communication and collaboration, including frequent encouragement to stay motivated
|Multitasking and strict deadlines||You may need adaptations to:
• Duties and tasks (for example, performing one task at a time, performing only the core duties of your position, avoiding tight deadlines, requesting enough resources to meet the deadline or competing priorities)
• How you organize your work (creating a list of tasks to establish priorities, accessing a digital organizer and creating reminders lists)
• Manage your workload (meeting with your supervisor daily or regularly to discuss and adjust tasks, workload, priorities and deadlines
• Access training on time management skills
|Social interactions or exposure to stressful situation||You may need adaptations to:
• How you interact with others (attending meetings by telephone, collaborating via online technology, communicating in writing)
• Break times and frequency to allow respite from social or stressful interactions
• Access training and resources (on managing confrontational or stressful situations, developing coping tools, emotional intelligence or engaging more effectively with others in the workplace).
• Establish requirements and limitations with your supervisor and/or colleagues and subordinates to manage interactions and exposure to stressful situations (processes for providing instructions and feedback when in an emotionally stressful situation at work).
• Access support during the workday (from peers, manager, coach/mentor, therapist, EAP, physician)
• Seek approval from manager not to attend work-related social functions until able to do so
|Memory for recall||You may need adaptations to:
• Access retraining and/or reorientation
• How tasks are assigned (for example, requesting instructions in writing to improved ability for recall)
• How you organize your work and recall deadlines (creating a list of tasks to establish priorities, accessing a digital organizer and creating reminders lists)
• Managing priorities and deadlines (meeting with your supervisor daily or regularly to discuss priorities and to stay on track)
As always, if you have specific questions about your mental health or possible accommodation strategies, your mental health leave or a return to work plan, please don’t hesitate to contact an ACFO-ACAF Labour Relations Advisor at firstname.lastname@example.org. I or one of my colleagues are always happy to assist you.
Stéphanie Rochon Perras
Labour Relations Advisor