One area of employee relations that is often murky with misinformation is the employer’s requirements regarding employees who are ill or injured outside of the workplace.
While most employers know about WSIB, they don’t often realize that non-WSIB illness or injury must be dealt with in virtually the same manner and is enforced under the Human Rights Code.
Let us suppose your employee falls while skiing during the winter and breaks their leg. The doctor says that the employee is fit to work, with some restrictions that limit standing and walking. What does that mean for the workplace?
If the employee’s current job is not fit for their current health situation-for example, they are a restaurant server who must walk a lot-then the employer must find other “meaningful” work for this employee to perform. This could be helping out in the office with filing or bookkeeping tasks, or some other function that is required by the workplace and suitable for the employee to perform while recovering. Employers are required to look at all the duties in the workplace and are permitted to temporarily re-assign those duties performed by other workers which are suitable. For the injured/ill employee, this could mean they have to temporarily change shifts, or alter work locations, in order to comply.
But, what happens if you are unable to find suitable work for this employee? In some cases, the workplace will not be able to support accommodating the injured employee. In this case, if the employee must be off work for more than seven (7) consecutive days, then the employee must be given a Record of Employment with “Medical Leave of Absence” as the reason for being off work, so that they may file for Employment Insurance Benefits. The employee is entitled to a maximum of 15 weeks paid benefit from EI.
Employees are required to provide suitable proof such as Functional Abilities reports from the physician to support their request for accommodated duties, and are also obligated to keep the employer informed of any progress or setbacks. The employee is also required to maintain appropriate attendance and behaviour at work just as they normally would.
If your workplace offers Short Term Disability Insurance, coverage would commence once the EI benefit is exhausted and providing the employee meets the criteria for the Disability Insurance.
If the workplace offers Health and Dental Benefits, employees are permitted to maintain their participation in such programs providing that they continue to pay the employee portion of the premiums.
For more information visit http://www.ohrc.on.ca/en/learning/duty-accommodate