Work with Health Professionals to Protect Your Health & Job
Managing sickness and injuries at work can be stressful. Having a good working relationship with your doctor, physiotherapist, therapist, and other health care providers, helps protect your health and your employment.
The Right to Accommodation & the Duty to Update
Your employer has a legal duty under the Human Rights Code (“the Code”) to try to accommodate your disability. The term disability covers a range of conditions:
- Physical, mental and learning disabilities;
- Mental disorders;
- Hearing or vision disabilities;
- Drug and alcohol dependencies, and;
- Environmental sensitivities.
Employers and workers are required to work together to address disability in the workplace. Workers have the right to be accommodated in their job. So, rules, policies and practices must be flexible enough to support workers experiencing illness.
Workers must answer reasonable requests from employers for specific updated medical documentation. Employer requests for medical documentation or information must be reasonable, in good faith, and respect your dignity.
The information your boss can ask for depends on the situation. Your employer is allowed to ask your doctor when you can be expected to return to work, what medical restrictions you have and what accommodations you need.
In rare cases, employers can ask for a diagnosis. For example, if a second opinion through an independent medical examination (IME) is required to accommodate you, information on your diagnosis may be required. The Ontario Human Rights Commission has more info on Medical Documentation online here.
Your right to return to work depends on your ability to perform the essential job duties of your position after you receive accommodation. To refuse an accommodation, the employer must meet the standards for undue hardship laid out in the Code. The three criteria used to determine undue hardship are: cost, outside sources of funding, and health and safety requirements.
Build & Keep A Health Support Team
Your medical professionals should focus on getting you, and keeping you, healthy. Talk to your doctor about the kinds of job tasks you believe you can do and what duties could cause you bodily harm. The more information you provide, the better. Follow these tips for medical appointments:
- Prepare by making a list of what you want to talk about.
- Ask questions – it’s your health and your right.
- Explain if you don’t understand. If you don’t speak the same language as your doctor then bring someone you trust to interpret, or ask for a referral to a doctor who speaks your language.
- Write it down: Record any information you discuss.
- Keep all records and make copies of everything.
- Tell your doctor about your health at work.
- Research your condition(s). Learn new medical terms.
Don’t feel embarrassed about asking your doctor for a note: They have an obligation to provide you with one. Explain that your employer requested the information.
Your medical notes and reports form part of a legal record about your employment and accommodations. Keep copies of medical documents you give to your employer in case your employer misplaces it or claims you never provided it.
Also, keep a calendar of the dates and times that you attended appointments and treatments. Review any forms your doctor fills out before you leave the appointment. Ensure your doctor identifies:
- the affected parts of your body;
- your current medication(s);
- when and/or if you will be able to return to work, and;
- your next scheduled appointment.
Remember, you’re in control of your health and needs. Communicate and be your own advocate!