Disability in the Workplace Part 1

Do You Take Proper Care of Your Employees?

Employer on the Front Lines of Sickness in the Workplace

Most private employers offer a group benefit plan to their employees as part of the employment contract.

What many employers do not understand is that it is their duty and obligation at law to administer that plan properly for their employees or face exposure to liability for breach of contract or a human rights complaint when they fail in their administration.

If you have an employee that is not performing to standard, acting contrary to usual behavior, or late reporting to work or after breaks, it is important for the employer to address the issue right away.

List your concerns to the employee and ask if there is any reason for their change in behavior and performance. Tell the employee that if they are unwell or may have a medical issue, it is important they take a sick day or more to seek proper medical attention and provide a note to you.

Too often, employees are afraid to mention sickness or stress to their employer, or may be hiding a mental illness. Often their reported stress is as a result of the work environment, performance pressure, or the behavior of their supervisor.
Whatever the reason, it is important for the employer to raise the issue of wellness to their employee and encourage them to take a sick day and seek medical attention if they feel unwell.

This does not mean the employer delves into personal details with their employee. You just require a medical note and an estimate of how long the employee will be off work.

Once a medical absence is known and will be for an extended period of time, the employer must review their group benefits plan information and ensure the employee is provided with the appropriate application forms to apply for all benefits and a copy of the actual policy wordings.

If the employer is uncertain or this is their first claim in the office, it is best to call up your broker and have them walk you through the process to ensure you understand the timelines for when short term disability ends and the long term disability begins so that you may provide your employee with the right forms in a timely manner.

Do you have a medical leave policy?

I will cover this in my next article.