Best Practices in Disability Management

The practices and resources below were discussed during the Power Chat: Best Practices in Disability Management organized by the Federal Workplace Well-Being Network, the Disability Management Community of Practice, and the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat.


For managers

  • Ask employees “How can I help you be successful in your work?” This question can be especially useful when exercising your duty to inquire, if you notice an individual’s performance flagging or other signs of a possible disability.
  • Discuss your employee’s needs and concerns with respect to job expectations. Resources such as the Supporting Employee Success guide or the Secretariat’s Handling Disability Management Cases tool can help you facilitate this discussion.

For organizations

  • Focus on the concepts of cost when making the case for disability management in your organization. Costs include the human cost of disability, direct and indirect costs to the employer and the costs of case work.
  • Deliver awareness sessions to different areas of the organization. Reach out to all areas that could be implicated in disability management (e.g. unions, managers, information technology, various human resources disciplines, etc.). Case studies can be especially effective when making the case for the importance of disability management.
  • Use a team approach to disability management. This can involve partners such as bargaining agents, staffing, compensation advisors and others. Having everyone at a meeting will get things moving quickly. In addition, having groups who are not seen as “the employer” trained and involved can create more options for managing disability cases.
  • Equip managers to act in disability management situations. Consider training or coaching.
    • Consider if it would be best to target training to areas at higher risk within the organization.
    • Divide training into small, digestible sections to increase the likelihood of retention.
    • Provide just-in-time training or supports for those supervisors where there is lower risk.
  • Develop a communications plan. When an employee is going on leave or returning to work, a communications plan should be developed. The plan should detail how often the workplace will be in touch with the employee, who will reach out, the method of communication, and subjects that are okay to talk about.
    • Determine the best person to contact the employee on leave. One practice is to have a disability management advisor call and ask the employee if it’s okay for his or her supervisor to get in touch.
    • Ensure employees are offered the opportunity to aide in or lead their return to work process.
  • Ensure joint engagement (employer/union) on disability management.
  • Ensure that managers and employees know who to contact for help.

Related links

The following resources were mentioned by panelists during the session:

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