Assumptions and stereotypes about older workers are unfortunately all too prevalent in our workplaces. Older workers are often unfairly perceived as less productive, less committed to their jobs, not dynamic or innovative, unreceptive to change, unable to be trained or costly to the organization due to health problems and higher salaries. These ideas about older workers are simply myths that are not borne out by evidence. In fact, there is significant evidence that older workers:
The Code states that every person has a right to equal treatment with respect to employment without discrimination or harassment because of race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, record of offences, marital status, family status or disability.
The right to “equal treatment with respect to employment” covers every aspect of the workplace environment and employment relationship, including job applications, recruitment, training, transfers, promotions, apprenticeship terms, dismissal and layoffs. It also covers rate of pay, overtime, hours of work, holidays, benefits, shift work, discipline and performance evaluations.
Relevant policies and guides:
- Policy on removing the "Canadian experience" barrier
- Human rights at work 2008 - 3rd edition
- Guidelines on developing human rights policies and procedures
- Policy on employment-related medical information
- Policy on drug and alcohol testing
- Policy on requiring a drivers license as a condition of employment
- Human rights maturity model (Canadian Human Rights Commission)
Employment and family often entail competing responsibilities: spouses or partners fall sick, daycare arrangements fall through, an aging parent needs help in making a transition to assisted living arrangements. For many workers, daily life involves a complicated juggling act between the demands, deadlines and responsibilities of the workplace, and the needs of their families.
What are the lessons we can learn? How can we move towards a different world: one where there is public support for child rearing and care giving; one where both men and women are given equal roles and responsibilities; one where care giving requirements don’t fall on people who are already struggling?
To a significant degree, the workplace is still built on the assumption that families are composed in a ‘traditional’ fashion, of two married heterosexual parents, one of whom is providing full-time caregiving for children, aging relatives, and other family members as necessary. Work schedules, policies and benefits all too often reflect the assumption that employees do not have substantial caregiving obligations. The corollary to this assumption is the belief that workers who do have substantial caregiving obligations are in some way inferior and undesirable employees.
There are many tools available to assist employers in engaging in employment systems reviews to identify systemic barriers to racialized persons as well as others identified by Code grounds such as women and employees with disabilities.
People with mental health disabilities or addictions often face barriers to finding and keeping jobs. People with serious mental health disabilities tend to have very high rates of unemployment.
2008 - This is the third edition of Human Rights at Work. Since it was first launched in 2000, Human Rights at Work has been seen as an essential tool for employers and all partners in the workplace. This edition includes an expanded section on how to create a workplace that promotes the values of the Ontario Human Rights Code (the Code).
The right to “equal treatment with respect to employment” protects persons in all aspects of employment, including applying for a job, recruitment, training, transfers, promotions, terms of apprenticeship, dismissals, layoffs and terminations. It also covers rate of pay, codes of conduct, overtime, hours of work, holidays, benefits, shift work, performance evaluations and discipline. A fundamental starting point for complying with the Code in relation to all of these is to have a workplace setting where human rights are respected and applied.
Employers, housing providers, educators and other responsible parties covered by the Code have the ultimate responsibility for maintaining an inclusive environment that is free from discrimination and harassment, and where everyone’s human rights are respected. Organizations and institutions operating in Ontario have a legal duty to take steps to prevent and respond to situations involving competing rights.
Finding the right consultant to help you develop human rights policies, get training or investigate or resolve disputes is a good investment. A good consultant can help you build a diverse and inclusive workplace, avoid legal expenses and reach diverse markets with your products or services. This fact sheet can help you use search tools on the Internet to find and choose the right consultant for your immediate need. There is no one “best” way to conduct on-line searching. The points offered here are just suggestions.