Work Reintegration for Non-Work Related Injury or Medical Condition

So, you’re on the mend, or are now capable of returning to work after experiencing a non-work related injury or medical condition. There are different procedures and specific legislation for both work and non-work related illness and injury that employees and employers must abide by. For this article, we will be looking at work reintegration for non-work related injury and medical condition – what you, as an employee, need to know.

The Ontario Human Rights Code (OHRC) protects workers with disabilities. Employers have the duty to accommodate those with disabilities that are covered in the OHRC up to undue hardship. If you have a disability, you are not required to disclose every detail of your condition. However, you should disclose information only as it pertains to the need for accommodation and any restrictions or limitations.

Employees have the right to return to work only if the employee can fulfill the essential duties of the job after accommodation short of undue hardship to the employer. If an employee cannot fulfill the essential duties of the job, despite accommodations, there is no right to return to work.

Depending on your condition, your job role may change to accommodate you by providing temporary alternative work or permanent alternative work. Section 17 of the Code, provides that people with disabilities have the right to have their individual needs accommodated short of undue hardship. Temporary alternative work means different work, or work that does not necessarily involve similar skills, responsibilities, and/or compensation. Temporary alternative work may be an appropriate accommodation either in a return to work context or in a situation where a disability renders an employee temporarily unable to accomplish the pre-disability job. Permanent alternative work is required when an employee can no longer perform their current job. Whenever possible, the returning employee should be given an opportunity to prove his or her ability to perform the pre-disability job.

The following are some tips to keep in mind during your time off work, and how to reintegrate back into work:

  • Throughout your leave of absence, stay in touch with your employer, if you are able to
    • Keep all communication with manager or employer documented
  • Your healthcare provider may assist you in developing a flexible work schedule or provide recommendations to assist with your condition until you can work safely
  • You and your manager should discuss possible accommodations
    • Identify and execute suitable work arrangements; work that is:
      • Safe
      • Productive
      • Within your functional abilities
    • Answer questions or provide information regarding relevant restrictions or limitations, including information from healthcare professionals, where appropriate and as needed
    • Both you and your manager must agree on the return to work plan
    • Continue ongoing communication during your reintegration to work

It is important that you continue open communication with your manager on your progress. If you believe you need to readjust your work accommodations, first consult with your healthcare provider to ensure that your alterations are reasonable and do not jeopardize your health and safety. Speak with your manager about the proposed alterations to see if they can accommodate. Make sure you don’t push yourself past your threshold, as that can deter your progress to a healthier you.

Written by Jenna Kressler | Curriculum Developer 


 

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