Video – Post-disability return to work

Length: 3:02


At any given time, a large percentage of the Canadian workforce is on leave from work due to illness or injury. In fact, almost one in three workers will experience a disability-related work stoppage during their career.

The return to work is an important step that both the employee and the employer must properly prepare for.

An employee may face several obstacles and symptoms when returning to work following disability leave, including:

  • a feeling of shame and guilt
  • reduced mental endurance
  • loss of confidence
  • performance anxiety
  • reduced sleep
  • fear of relapse

Considering the challenges of returning to work, the most promising approach involves good planning by the manager and the active participation of the employee.

It is strongly recommended that the absent employee and their employer maintain regular contact from the start of the disability leave.

This way, the employer will be kept updated on the evolution of the medical situation, and the eventual return to work will be made easier.

Research has actually shown that the duration of disability leave is significantly reduced when this contact is maintained.

As soon as the employee’s condition suggests a return to work is possible, there needs to be a preparatory meeting between them and their employer. Such a meeting allows for benefits such as:

  • establishing guidelines
  • clarifying the expectations of both parties
  • reducing the risk of relapse
  • creating a climate of trust

Upon returning to work, the employee may struggle with temporary or permanent functional limitations noted by a health professional. In that case, the employer must do their best to accommodate the employee so that they can offer satisfactory work performance without compromising their health and safety or that of others.

However, the duty to accommodate has its limits. An employee’s right to equality must be balanced with an employer’s right to manage a productive workplace.

The better everyone’s responsibilities and best practices are respected, the greater the chance that the return to work and health will be successful.

Additionally, the message that is sent to other workers in the organization will be a very positive one. This will, in turn, enhance the work climate and their commitment to the organization.

To find out more about this topic, we suggest you read the reference document.

In case of any questions, doubts or a specific need for support, don’t hesitate to contact the specialized support service offered to the eligible individuals.