Skip to main content

THE QUESTION

My medical report stated, "Due to work-related stress, I recommend she work from home when possible or reduce hours ... 50 per cent." My employer reacted by applying reduced hours for six weeks and a corresponding wage cut of 50 per cent. They did not consult me. Accommodations could have been put in place at work before forcing me on leave. Can they take this action based on a doctor's recommendation, versus my ability to gauge what I need? I've never been more embarrassed and humiliated in my life.

THE FIRST ANSWER

Story continues below advertisement

Bill Howatt

Chief research and development officer of work force productivity, Morneau Shepell, Toronto

Your situation appears to be in conflict with the expectations for accommodations set by the Canadian Human Rights Commission, specifically around three key tenets for how employers are expected to facilitate an accommodation: maximize the individual's dignity, autonomy, privacy and integration into the workplace and the larger society; minimize discomfort or inconvenience; and address the individual's needs most rapidly.

It appears that the spirit of your accommodations was imposed in a way that had an unintended consequence with respect to finances, which only added to your level of stress. A lawyer is best equipped to provide you legal advice on what your employer can and cannot do.

Health-care providers supporting employees seeking accommodations are asked by employees to fill in paperwork sent from their employer. The purpose is to provide a medical reason and recommendations for what the employer can do. The employee and health-care provider should work together to decide what they're going to propose, be specific and evaluate the impact before sending it to the employer for consideration. These are then used by the employer to consider what they can do for the employee, including workplace accommodations.

It appears there may have been some miscommunication or misunderstanding around defining your specific expectations and needs. If your health-care provider had provided more guidance and made it clear that any recommendation suggested should not create financial hardship, it would have provided your employer with more parameters.

THE SECOND ANSWER

Story continues below advertisement

Daniel Lublin

Partner, Whitten & Lublin Employment & Labour Lawyers, Toronto

When you are off work for medical reasons, the employer need not pay your salary, unless it has a policy that requires it do so. Therefore, the issue is whether your employer is deliberately acting against your best interests by forcing you off work or whether it is simply following a doctor's orders.

If this was the recommendation from your employer's doctor and not your own, there certainly are grounds to challenge it. You have the right to have your own doctor independently assess your alleged medical limitations and assist in the process of determining whether and to what extent you are to required to work reduced hours or take time off.

However, if these are recommendations made by your own doctor and you feel the employer has not appropriately interpreted your doctor's recommendations, then you need to have your doctor provide a second letter clarifying his or her request. For example, it does not appear that the doctor put a six-week timeline anywhere in the note – so there is no reasonable basis for your employer to assert that you must take six weeks off.

Karl Moore sits down with Cornell’s Chris Marquis to discuss how the economy and environment interact in China Special to Globe and Mail Update
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Tickers mentioned in this story
Unchecking box will stop auto data updates
Comments

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • All comments will be reviewed by one or more moderators before being posted to the site. This should only take a few moments.
  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed. Commenters who repeatedly violate community guidelines may be suspended, causing them to temporarily lose their ability to engage with comments.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.
Cannabis pro newsletter