HR Insights with Ali: How to Properly Communicate with Employees on Disability Leave
Posted on 4/5/2017 by Ali Oromchian, Esq.
Sometimes issues with an employee’s health may require a leave of absence. An involuntary absence from work due to medical reasons does not terminate the employer-employee relationship. Even when your employee is on disability leave, your practice will continue to have continuing legal obligations to that employee. And in order to properly fulfill these obligations, it is important to maintain good relationships with your employees and to support them as they need it.
Staying in communication with your employees on disability leave is more than just a good move for morale - it can be an important part of the accommodation process required under human rights legislation. This is especially important when employees do not have an exact return date, or when they have continuing health concerns. Employers and employees should stay in regular communication with one another in order to stay abreast of the employee’s situation and to discuss, if necessary, the need for continued leave beyond what might have been granted originally. Finally, if an issue does arise with an employee not returning to work even after his or her physician has approved such a return, then having a record of communications (or attempted communications) with this employee can help to protect you in the future.
When communicating with employees on disability leave, remember that all communication must be consistent with a continuing employment relationship, and should include indications of an expectation that the employee will be returning to work when his or her health permits. And while it likely goes without saying, all communications with your employees - both those in the office and those on leave - should be conducted with respect.
HR for Health is proud to provide guidance for how to handle disability leave issues, including communications with employees. If you need assistance, please open a support ticket titled “disability leave,” and we will be happy to help.