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  • Conner Lantz
    Post count: 4836


    We have an employee who broke his ankle during his holidays, had surgery on Monday and is interested to come back to work on wednesday with modified duties. He is a labourer and will not be able to return to full duties for up to 3 months. It is a small company and there is limited meaningful modified work available and nothing for up to 3 months time.
    could you outline what an employer’s duty to accommodate is for a non-work related injury please.

    thank you

    Conner Lantz
    Post count: 4836

    I apologize for the delay. I somehow missed your Q.
    First of all, you’re subject to Alberta workers’ comp law even though you’re federally regulated. Under the Bill 30 workers’ comp changes that took effect on Sept. 1 this year, employers have a duty to accommodate AND reinstate workers who suffer compensable injuries, i.e, work injuries covered by workers’ comp (WCB Policy 04-05). But since your employee’s injury is NOT work-related, Policy 04-05 doesn’t apply.
    However, you do have a duty to accommodate an employee with a broken ankle (or any other disabling injury or illness) even if it’s not work-related to the point of undue hardship. As with all accommodation requests, the question of whether letting the employee return to work so soon is reasonable or undue hardship depends on the situation. Your obligation is not necessarily to agree to the request but to:

    1. Assess the employee’s capabilities;
    2. Seek to modify the position in accordance with those capabilities;
    3. If that’s not possible, determine if there are other jobs the employee can do.

    While you don’t have to make up a job that delivers no value to the organization just to accommodate the employee, you do need to activate the accommodations process described above and, just as importantly, keep clear and specific records documenting your efforts. You should also treat the accommodations process as collaborative and not adversarial and work together with the employee and his/her representatives to work out a solution. If you do all this, you should be on solid legal grounds as far as a disability discrimination complaint is concerned.
    Hope this helps. Glenn

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