The birth of a Canadian Standard: CSA Group Standard B701-17 – Carer-inclusive and accommodating organizations

Funded by CIHR and SSHRC the CSA Group Standard B701-17 – Carer-inclusive and accommodating organizations and the implementation guide, B701HB-18 – Helping worker-carers in your organization were published in 2017.

Carer-employees are individuals who are caring for a family member while also working in the paid labour workforce.  In Canada there are an estimated six million carer-employees who are essentially juggling two jobs. The economic impact on business is estimated at $1.3B lost per year because of carer-employees either taking leaves, reducing their hours, or quitting their paid work altogether.

“The standard is timely and necessary”

Carer-employees experience role conflict and insufficient workplace supports which can result in poor health, interpersonal, and personal economic consequences.  One solution is to implement carer-friendly workplace policies, such as support services, paid/unpaid leave options, and flexible work options.   However, these measures are often ad hoc and a vision for a standard as a framework for supporting carer-employees in Canada was developed.

The intent of a carer-inclusive accommodating standard is to:

  • Ensure a minimum level of support/protection for carers beyond Employee Assistance Plans
  • Actively and intentionally promote a balance between work and care
  • Serve as an incentivizing tool for business

Dr. Allison Williams consulted with the CSA Group, the largest Canadian standard developing organization with the widest subject area recognition.  The CSA Group is a 100-year-old not-for-profit non-government organization with more than 9000 volunteer members and over 3000 standards and codes.

A seed document for the standard was created at McMaster University and then refined by a CSA Group technical committee representing government, labour, employers, and academics.  A McMaster graduate student completed an extended public review of the standard. This process took approximately 1 year. The standard was published and made available free of charge in 2017.

The Canadian Human Rights Commission, which helps ensure that everyone in Canada is treated fairly, recognizes that Standard B701-17 – Carer-inclusive and accommodating organizations is a significant collaboration between researchers, labour, regulatory agencies, government, and employers.  It is an important tool in helping to normalize best practices for carer-employees and helps to make clear the importance of safety from a psychological and work-life balance perspective.

The standard can help organizations to develop their human resource capacity.  It puts inclusion first (culture change) and then provides for individual adjustments as required.  It offers an approach to changing workplace culture in a systematic way.

The structure of the standard sets fundamental importance on commitment from senior management and on an investment of resources. The second step built into the structure of the standard is to engage directly with employees about their needs.  Finally, the standard recognizes the need to keep current with the laws as they evolve.

Human rights law prohibits discrimination based on the ground of family status, meaning that when an employee must care for a family member, employers have a legal obligation to accommodate that employee.[i] Notwithstanding, supporting working caregivers makes good business sense.

Access the standard

CIHR/SSHRC Healthy Productive Work Partnership Grant “Scaling up the Career Inclusive Accommodating Organizations Standard” FRN: HWP-146001 (CIHR); 890-2016-3018 (SSHRC).

[i] Canadian Human Rights Commission website

Maybe cite the source of this article from the video?  Yes, I agree.

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