HR Home Forums Community Long-term illness and injury leave vs medical leave (Human Rights Act)

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  • Conner Lantz
    Keymaster
    Post count: 4836

    How does long-term illness and injury leave differ from the current medical leave under Alberta Human Rights Act? My company has long-term disability benefits which an employee may be eligible for after 17 weeks of illness or injury. According to Alberta Employment Standards, employees are protected for a maximum of 16 weeks. What does this mean if an employee is not fit to return to work after the 16 weeks? Could the employer then terminate their position? Prior to Bill 17, I was under the impression that an employer must accommodate the leave of absence until it becomes evident that the employee is not getting better and return to work is not likely. (Approx. 2 years was a benchmark for determining that). I would appreciate clarification as the Alberta government did not exactly provide resources beyond basic information.

    Conner Lantz
    Keymaster
    Post count: 4836

    First and foremost, I can offer you a personal opinion BUT NOT LEGAL COUNSEL. This sounds like the kind of situation that requires talking to a lawyer.
    Having said that, I can suggest that you get a complete medical assessment of the employee’s capabilities and needs. Now that the accommodations process has been engaged, an informal doctor’s note isn’t enough. I’m assuming the employee isn’t in a union; but if that’s wrong, you need to get the union involved in the accommodations process.
    Once you assess the employee’s assessments and needs, determine what, if anything, you can offer that’s suitable. Keep in mind that the accommodations process is bilateral. Your responsibility isn’t necessarily to make final decisions but to negotiate with the employee and his representatives. Work together to find a solution.
    If the employee refuses to provide the needed medical information or cooperate in the accommodations process, you likely have ground to terminate–at that point, accommodations go from reasonable to undue hardship. But you need to document this very clearly and precisely. Another caveat is that there may be other facts or circumstances affecting the situation that I don’t know about. For all these reasons, TALK TO A LAWYER. Hope that helps and happy holidays. Glenn

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