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How to Request Medical Information to Accommodate Employees

How to Request Medical Information to Accommodate Employees 

Employers understand that under human rights law, they are required to provide accommodation for employees who have a disability.

What should I be looking for? 

To meet their duty to accommodate, the employer needs to find out the following when responding to an accommodation request:

  • Whether the employee presents with a disability or medical need;
  • What are the employee’s limitations or needs as they pertain to their job requirements;
  • Whether they are able to do the essential duties of their job, with or without accommodation;
  • The type of accommodation they are requesting to perform the job’s essential duties; and
  • In the case of employees off work on leave, some sense of their anticipated return to work.

What should I not inquire into?

  • The particulars or cause of the disability or condition;
  • The specific diagnosis of the disability or condition; or
  • Details of medical treatments.

How do I Request medical information

Much of the medical information employers typically seek from medical professionals does not help the employer in the accommodation process. However, the employer is still responsible for accommodating the employee short of undue hardship, so the employer should be prepared to work collaboratively with the employee and their health care provider. If an employer cannot show that they made these kinds of efforts, they will not be able to assert undue hardship.

Sometimes it may be necessary to ask for more information from the employee. In that case, the employer must bear the cost of any such requested medical documentation, including diagnoses, test results, functional abilities assessments, etc.

What can I ask for? 

The employer must ensure that information requested from the employee’s medical provider:

  • Is needed to help understand the link between the employee’s needs and the requested accommodation; and
  • Has to do with to the nature of the employee’s restrictions or limitations, and relates to the employee’s particular accommodation request.


Where drawing up an appropriate accommodation plan for the employee, it may be reasonable to ask into the nature of the employee’s particular condition, (whether or not caused by a disability). However, the employer must clearly show why they need such supplemental information.

Functional abilities assessments 

A Functional Physical or Cognitive Abilities Form, usually filled out by the employee’s healthcare professional, provides employers with a sense of the employee’s physical and cognitive abilities as applied to their job requirements. It can be a very useful document for employers in helping match the appropriate accommodation to the employee’s needs.

If an employer is concerned that the form is not fully filled out, or is otherwise unclear, they may ask for clarification by way of follow up. Remember, though, when dealing with physicians or other health care providers, that employees cannot control when their doctors respond to such requests.

Further Considerations

Employers should always resist the temptation to play doctor and weigh in on matters that should be the doctor’s area of expertise. Avoid diagnosing illnesses or disorders, questioning prescribed treatment, etc. Once an accommodation is agreed to, the employer must then accommodate the employee up to the point of undue hardship. Successful accommodations are the result of a good-faith collaboration between the employee, their health care professional, and the employer.

Remember that accommodations often end up costing far less than imagined worst-case scenarios. As mentioned above, most accommodations cost around five hundred dollars.

Find out how to stay in compliance with your duty to accommodate. HR Proactive, Inc., can provide you with the tools and resources you need to successfully manage the accommodation process.

Download our Free AODA Policy

Have a specific accommodation request you would like to discuss? Do you want to provide AODA related training to managers and employees?

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