Handling Disability Management Cases - Work-Related: Employee Will Go on Leave
Disability Management in the Federal Public Service
When the employee will be absent from the workplace due to a work related injury, illness or medical condition the manager should do the following:
- Administer the leave. Proceed to Work-related: Administer the leave.
- Provide the employee with all relevant information to support recovery and return to work, including:
- Related policies and benefits information in Managing for Wellness - Appendix C - Disability Management Policies, Directives, Standards and Guidelines; and
- Contact information for the Employee Assistance Program, which may provide support to both the employee and family members during absence and recovery.
- Keep the employee connected to the workplace during absence. Proceed to Communication when the Employee is on leave. This will support the employee's recovery and his or her safe and timely return to work.
- Ascertain when the employee may safely return to work and whether the employee will have any functional limitations or restrictions requiring accommodation or other supports.
- Support the employee's continued connection to the workplace by collaborating on return-to-work planning. Proceed to Return-to-work plan. You may consider asking whether the employee would like to involve a union representative or a third party in communications.
- Contact Human Resources if there is difficulty developing or maintaining the plan.
- If applicable, discuss the situation with the team, always maintaining the employee's right to privacy. Where possible, consult with the employee before this discussion to determine what information, if any, they would like shared.
- Be mindful that an employee's injury or illness may interfere with a unit's ability to meet operational goals and objectives. Determine whether performance expectations must be amended in light of the employee's abilities, functional limitations and restrictions.
- Reassess staffing needs, if applicable.
Note: In rare instances it may be necessary to permanently backfill the position of an employee on long-term leave. In such cases, the employee benefits from a leave of absence priority entitlement at the time the position is backfilled and would be in a position to exercise the entitlement once the employee is able to return to work. More information can be obtained from Human Resources and in Managing for Wellness – 5.4.2 - Managing Without the Ill or Injured Employee.
If an employee will be on a leave but the available medical information indicates that the employee will be able to return to work within the forseeable future, managers should:
- Maintain contact with the employee as per the return-to-work plan.
- In consultation with Human Resources , follow up with the employee, workers' compensation (where applicable) and the insurer as required to stay up to date on employee's status, including reassessment dates and information related to the employee's return to work.
- Advise the employee of any managerial change. Pass the file for the employee on to the new manager, and make the new manager aware of the need to remain in contact with the employee for the duration of the leave, as per the communication plan.
Continue the above process until the situation changes to one of the following:
- The employee has a return-to-work date. Proceed to Return to work.
- It is determined that the employee is unable to return to work within a reasonable time. Proceed to Employee is unable to return to work: Options.
Best practice tip: Maintaining contact with an employee during an absence is a good management practice. It keeps the manager informed of the employee's situation and helps arrange for the return to work. It also keeps the employee connected to the workplace. This is particularly important during longer absences.
- Administer the leave
- The employee does not have sufficient sick leave
- Employee is absent for more than 130 working days
- Communication when the employee is on leave
Work-Related: Administer the Leave
When a work-related injury, illness or medical condition will keep an employee from work, and when a workers' compensation claim has been filed, managers should:
- Ensure that the employee requests leave in the approved format; and
- Where the employee has sufficient accumulated sick leave, record the absence as paid sick leave until the applicable workers' compensation board has reached a decision.
What if the employee does not have enough sick leave available? Proceed to Work-related: The employee does not have sufficient sick leave?
Note: Hours lost on the day of the injury should be recorded as leave with pay for other reasons.
If the claim for benefits is approved:
- For employees subject to terms and conditions of employment or a collective agreement:
- In accordance with collective agreements, convert the approved portions of the leave taken after the day of the injury to paid injury-on-duty leave.
- Ensure that the employee is aware that he or she may receive injury-on-duty leave (income replacement) for up to 130 working days, at which point a formal review of the file will take place.
- In the event that injury-on-duty leave is not payable, income replacement benefits may be provided directly by the applicable workers' compensation board.
- For students and term employees of less than three months (whose terms and conditions of employment do not have a provision for paid Injury-on-duty leave):
- Advise Compensation that the employee will be on leave without pay; in such cases, employees will be paid benefits directly from the provincial workers' compensation board.
- Ensure that the employee is aware that he or she can also apply for benefits under the Disability Insurance Plan (DI) or the Public Service Management Insurance Plan—Long Term Disability (PSMIP-LTD), if the employee has completed six months of continuous employment with no break of more than five days. If an employee receives less from the provincial workers' compensation than the maximum allowable amount under DI and PSMIP-lTD, and if the disability insurance claim is accepted, the insurance carrier will pay the difference.
- Facilitate the employee's access to the necessary forms and documents to make these applications. Contact Compensation for more information.
- Contact Human Resources for further assistance, if required.
If the Claim for Benefits Is Partially Approved
In some cases, a workers' compensation claim may be partially approved: only some of the time off might be approved, or only medical expenses (time and expenses for recommended treatment of the condition, such as massage or physiotherapy). Employees should use sick leave or other leave options for any time that is not covered by workers' compensation. Proceed to Work-related: The employee does not have sufficient sick leave.
If the Claim for Workers' Compensation Is Not Approved
The employee will continue to be entitled to sick leave benefits in the same manner as any employee who is absent from work due to a non-work related injury or illness, Proceed to Non-work-related: Employee will go on leave.
Work-Related: The Employee Does Not Have Sufficient Sick Leave
When the employee does not have sufficient sick leave to cover his or her time off while awaiting the decision on the workers' compensation claim, the manager and the employee may consider the following options.
Advanced Sick Leave Credits
These may be granted to the employee at the manager's discretion as specified in the applicable terms and conditions or collective agreement. Any leave granted will be deducted from sick leave credits subsequently earned when the employee returns to work. Employees should be urged to consider the repercussions before pursuing this option. If it is uncertain whether workers' compensation will fully approve the claim, this option can result in a temporary lack of access to sick leave credit once the employee returns to work or result in a demand for the recovery of advances if the employee does not return to work.
Sick Leave Without Pay
The manager must advise Compensation when an employee takes leave without pay for reasons of illness or injury. In order to minimize any delay in accessing additional benefits (Employment Insurance Sickness Benefits, disability insurance), if possible you should advise Compensation of the employee's use of leave without pay in advance of the depletion of other leave credits. Contact Compensation for more information.
Vacation or Compensatory Leave
It is not recommended for the employee to use vacation or compensatory leave. Contact Human Resources if the employee plans to do so.
Best practice tip: If employees have less than 13 weeks of accumulated sick leave credits, they should be advised to apply immediately for Employment Insurance Sickness Benefits, and either DI or PSMIP-LTD while waiting for the provincial workers' compensation board to make a decision. Doing so will reduce the risk of an interruption in income. Provide the employee with the necessary forms to apply for these benefits.
Work-Related: Employee Is Absent for More Than 130 Working Days
Return-to-work plans should be in place as soon as possible. However, when information suggests that an employee will be absent for more than 130 days, a special departmental review of the case should begin, as provided by the Treasury Board Policy on injury-on-duty leave. A decision needs to be made as to whether the leave should continue beyond this period. However, managers who know that the employee will return to work shortly after the 130-day deadline may extend the paid injury-on-duty leave for that period.
If the employee does not have a confirmed return-to-work date, the manager should advise the Regional Injury Compensation Office, Labour Program, Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, so that the workers' compensation board can assess whether the employee is eligible to receive income replacement benefits. Consult Human Resources if there are questions about such a situation, or refer to Managing for Wellness - 5.3.1 - What to Do While the Employee Is on Injury-on-Duty Leave.
When there will be a change in the employee's status, the manager should:
- Advise the employee of the option of applying for benefits under a disability insurance plan in addition to workers' compensation benefits. For example, if an employee receives less from the provincial workers' compensation board than the maximum allowable amount under disability insurance and if the claim is accepted, the insurance carrier will pay the difference.
- Conduct the employee's review well in advance of the 130 days so that Compensation can be advised if the employee will be on leave without pay. In order to minimize any delay in the employee's receipt of other benefits, Compensation should be aware of the change to leave-without-pay status well in advance of the end of the 130-day period.
- Where applicable, advise the employee as far in advance of the end of the 130-day period as possible about any changes in coverage for the employee's leave. For detailed information about the current level of coverage in each individual province, employees should be directed to the applicable provincial workers' compensation regulations.
- Advise the Regional Injury Compensation Office, Labour Program, Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, of any change in the employee's leave status.
To avoid delays in the processing of the employee's claim, managers must complete the employer portion of the DI (Part 2) or PSMIP-LTD (Part 3) form promptly and thoroughly. For assistance, contact Human Resources.
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