Existing processes for assessing the potential or the contributions of academic staff members may disadvantage individuals who have followed non-traditional career paths or experienced career interruptions. In addition to negotiating articles to ensure that candidates are accommodated within appointments, tenure, and promotion processes and are not disadvantaged for taking medical, pregnancy, or parental leave, it is important to encourage candidates to seek accommodation when appropriate and to explain any circumstances that should be considered when assessing productivity. Where employers fail to address stigma and discrimination, members may be reluctant to seek appropriate accommodation and may be unwilling to disclose information that is necessary for a fair assessment of their work.
Human rights legislation requires the employer to provide reasonable accommodations regardless of whether collective agreement language addresses this requirement. However, including language in the agreement not only helps ensure that members are aware of their rights, but can establish an effective process and provide a role for the association The Northern Ontario School of Medicine, for example, specifically states that accommodation may include a modification of assessment procedures:
2.2. Members with a physical or mental disability (permanent or temporary) have the right to accommodation, including modification of an existing accommodation. Accommodation shall entail any necessary adjustments to physical workspace and modification of any aspect of a Member’s workload or accepted work practices. Such accommodation may also include, but is not limited to, modification of merit assessment and of the time requirements for tenure/permanency and promotion decisions.52
52 Collective Agreement between Ontario Public Service Employees Union and its Northern Ontario School of Medicine Local 677 (Unit 1) and Board of Directors of The Northern Ontario School Of Medicine (July 1, 2018 – June 30, 2022).