Predictors of Employer-Sponsored Disability Accommodation Requesting in the Workplace


  • Katherine Breward Assistant Professor, Department of Business and Economics University of Winnipeg



Disability, Workplace accommodation, Employer-sponsored disability accommodation, Theory of Planned Behaviour


Employer-sponsored disability accommodation is contingent upon employees being willing to request such accommodation. This paper examines individual, organizational, and institutional predictors of accommodation requests among adult workers with disabilities using data collected from 5,418 respondents to a Statistics Canada post-census survey. The Theory of Planned Behavior provides a frame of reference to develop a series of hypotheses about how each type of predictor influences accommodation requests. One key finding is that different predictors are significant for each category of accommodation. Another important finding is that individual variables directly related to disability accounted for greater variance in requesting than other aspects of personal identity, organizational factors or institutional considerations. There was some evidence of decision-making based on attitudes, specifically fear of stigmatization. However, the data suggest that norms in the form of industry and occupation-specific logics are also salient influencers. Meanwhile institutional forces meant to act as behavioral controls, such as legislation and union protection, do not seem to have the intended influence on accommodation requesting. This suggests that other forms of intervention, such as community education, may be required to encourage the requesting of needed workplace accommodation. 

Author Biography

Katherine Breward, Assistant Professor, Department of Business and Economics University of Winnipeg

Dr. Katherine Breward is an Assistant Professor at the University of Winnipeg who specializes in human resource management and diversity programming.  Her research efforts focus on identifying evidence-based best practices for maximizing labour force participation among people who have historically been disadvantaged in the labour market including immigrants, refugees, people with disabilities, and the neurodiverse.  Dr. Breward’s latest research uses large datasets representing thousands of workers with disabilities to model the individual, organizational, and institutional factors that influence employee willingness to request disability accommodations. She also examines employer willingness to grant needed accommodations.  Her work has appeared in the British Journal of Management; Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: An International Journal; and the Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health. Dr. Breward has also published two teaching cases based on real workplace disability management issues. Those cases appeared in the Case Research Journal and are available through Harvard Publishing. 

How to Cite

Breward, K. (2016). Predictors of Employer-Sponsored Disability Accommodation Requesting in the Workplace. Canadian Journal of Disability Studies, 5(1), 1–41.