Handling Disability Management Cases - What Triggered the Case?

The injury, illness and disability process can be triggered in one of two ways. Managers should choose the case trigger that applies for a given situation.

  • An employee expresses a concern or discloses an injury, illness or medical condition, Proceed to Initial Responsibilities; or
  • The manager observes or is made aware of certain behaviours that may indicate the need for accommodation. These behaviours might include:
    • Frequent complaints or observations of physical pain, discomfort or fatigue;
    • Regular lateness or frequent absences (increased use of leave, unusual pattern of absences);
    • Sudden changes in behaviour;
    • Unusual poor performance;
    • Signs of inattention, difficulty concentrating or poor memory;
    • Loss of interest, involvement or enthusiasm for work;
    • Negative feedback or concerns expressed by co-workers; and
    • Any other unusual situations or behaviours, Proceed to Exploring the possible need for accommodation.

There is no set formula for accommodation. Each person has unique needs, and all employees have the right to be accommodated by the employer up to the point of Undue hardship. Accommodation is about removing barriers to enable employees to perform and contribute their skills fully to the organization. Managers have an obligation to employees, even if accommodation has not been requested. When managers suspect that an employee may have health problems, they are obliged to initiate a conversation to determine whether accommodation is required.

Exploring the Possible Need for Accommodation

Managers who believe that an employee may require accommodation should:

  • Create a case file that documents the observations of the specific, observable behaviours of the employee that have led to this conclusion.
  • Meet with the employee to discuss the observations and to try to gather information to determine whether there is a need for accommodation. Managers should not probe into the nature of a medical condition nor inquire about a diagnosis. During this meeting, advise the employee that:
    • The intent of the discussion is to support the employee's participation in the workplace and that accommodation is available if required;
    • The intent of the discussion is not disciplinary;
    • Any information that is provided about possible limitations will be used to determine appropriate accommodation measures that, if required, will be formalized in the individual accommodation plan;
    • A union representative or a third party may be involved in discussions where applicable;
    • The discussion is confidential, i.e., relevant information will be shared with others in the workplace solely on a need-to-know basis (for example, a change in functional abilities could be used to identify possible accommodation);
    • Job expectations and potential consequences arising from the observed behaviour need to be addressed (if required, consult with Human Resources); and
    • Employee Assistance Program (EAP) services are available.
  • Document all meetings, discussions and the steps that were taken to try to address the issue. Provide copies of all completed forms to the employee.
  • Place all documentation or information related to the illness, injury or disability situation case file, and keep it in a locked cabinet with limited access.
  • Contact Human Resources and EAP for assistance if there are good reasons to believe that the employee is a danger to himself or herself or others. Refer to the organizational emergency protocol.

Choose the appropriate scenario for the current situation/case:

  • The employee does not agree or collaborate with efforts to identify the need for accommodation, address the issue through administrative and performance management measures, or continue to monitor the situation as per the steps above. Consult Human Resources for additional information and support.
  • The employee discloses an injury, illness or disability and provides information related to abilities, functional limitations and restrictions, Proceed to Initial Responsibilities.

You may seek assistance and advice from supervisors, Human Resources, Labour Relations and the departmental conflict resolution program. Managers may also obtain help with EAP if they themselves are affected by the situation.

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