A public servant’s request for advice on supporting transgender employees has prompted the government to issue a guide for employers and managers, to help them make their own workplaces more inclusive.
Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) realized there was a gap in advice for transgender and transitioning employees – a situation many Canadian employers also find themselves in.
The government’s new document, Support for trans employees: A guide for employees and managers
, launched last week, includes advice on how to support staff during a gender transition, appropriate employee conduct, and how to confront issues
like washrooms, dress codes and pronouns.
It also gives advice on leave accommodations
, medical considerations
, and advice on legally changing
one’s name and gender, and shares stories of public service employees’ experiences of transitioning
, and how their workplaces supported them.
“The guide allows everyone to have a common set of best practices and resources at their disposal,” a PSPC spokesman told HRD.
“All employees have an obligation to promote a respectful and inclusive workplace where everyone feels free to be whoever they want. As a federal department, we also have an obligation to be representative of the people of Canada, whom we employ and serve.
“As such, the guide will assist managers and employees in approaching a situation where an employee is transitioning in the workplace, thus fulfilling said obligation and ensure a respectful transition.”
Although created specifically for the public service, the document may also help to guide other employers, too:
PRIVACY AND PRONOUNS
The guide emphasizes the importance of keeping an employee’s gender identity private – including from HR, supervisors and their colleagues – unless the staffer has given written authorization. If, under exceptional circumstance, if it must be disclosed for some reason, the employee needs to be notified in advance, and told who it will be shared with, and why.
Employers and managers should always use an employee’s identified names and pronouns, including in communications and records where possible. They should also look to update phone and mailing lists, schedules, email addresses, door plates, websites etc. with the person’s identified name, pronoun and gender marker.
DRESS CODE AND UNIFORMS
The guide also recommends flexible, non-gender specific dress code and appearance guidelines, so employees can dress in a way that’s consistent with their gender identity.
“Requiring employees to choose between ‘men's’ and ‘women's’ clothing is not appropriate,” the guide says.
The same goes for company uniforms: transitioning workers should be allowed to to dress according to their gender identity, as long as they comply with the same standards of dress and appearance as other workers. Their employer should allow some flexibility – such as wearing a “female” blouse with “men’s” pants.
The guide says employees should be able to access and utilize facilities that they are comfortable using and that correspond to their gender identity, and they shouldn’t have to “prove” their gender. Employers should remember that using a gender neutral washroom is a matter of choice for the employee, and if possible, having more than one all-gender washroom is encouraged.
WORK ASSIGNMENTS AND DUTIES
If there gender-specific work assignments or duties, managers should consider the employee’s comfort and safety level when assigning tasks and, if requested by the employee, ensure these correspond to their gender identity, regardless of their sex assigned at birth.
Transgender jobseekers face barriers to employment
Want the latest HR news direct to your inbox? Sign up for HRD Canada's daily newsletter.