Understanding Your Illness Leave Benefits

Illness leave benefits provide salary scale protection to cover scheduled work days where a staff member is not able to be at work because of personal health issues.

Accessing Casual Illness leave benefits
Absences of 3 days or less due to your own illness or injury are considered Casual Illness and do not require a medical certificate. However, you must contact your supervisor and advise them you will be away. This time can also be used for medical and dental appointments for yourself.

Eligible staff members can access a maximum of 10 days of Casual Illness leave per calendar year.

Accessing General Illness leave benefits
For purposes of benefit coverage, General Illness is a medically documented personal illness resulting in the staff member needing to be absent from work for a period of more than 3 consecutive days. For an absence of more than 3 but not more than 10 consecutive work days, and for absences due to illness of 3 working days or less where the employee has exceeded the maximum of 10 days of Casual Illness, you are required to provide a medical certificate (at your own expense) from a physician to your supervisor or Manager. The medical certificate must specify that you are unable to attend work and perform your regular duties due to the illness or injury, and the duration of your absence.

A medical certificate may be required for any absence due to illness immediately preceding or following a vacation day or a paid holiday, or where your department identifies a pattern of shorter duration absences. If you are requested by your department to provide a medical certificate under these circumstances, your department will reimburse you for the cost of the medical note via expense claim.

When it is known that the absence will be for more than 10 working days or if the absence continues for more than 10 working days, in addition to advising your supervisor of the dates of your absence, you are also required to submit medical documentation from a physician to Homewood Health (HHI) at fax # (780) 429-1747. Any costs associated with providing medical documentation to HHI will be covered by the Employer through HHI. Invoices for the Medical to Support General Illness Form may be faxed by the physician's office directly to HHI, or the employee may pay the physician directly and then submit the receipt for reimbursement to HHI.
Please visit the Organizational Development, Equity and Health website for more information and forms.

Where medical documentation is required by HHI, your absence must be supported by information from your physician that at a minimum includes the following:
● the physician's statement that you are unable to attend work and perform your regular duties due to illness or injury,
● the prognosis for your full recovery including the expected duration of the illness
● the limitations and medical restrictions that would need to be accommodated in order for you to attend work
● the expected duration of each limitation or restriction, and the date you will be reassessed by your physician.
As the Illness progresses, continued objective medical information is required.

Subject to sufficient medical documentation being provided, an eligible staff member can access a maximum of 130 days of General Illness leave per calendar year, of which 10 can be used as Casual Illness.

If the staff member does not return to work on the specified return date, additional medical documentation is required. The staff member will be required to provide further documentation and maintain regular contact with your Health Support Consultant (HSC) at Homewood Health throughout the duration of your absence. The longer the period of absence, the more detailed information that will be required.

The staff member must also keep their supervisor or manager advised of the duration of their absence.

Where medical certificates or documentation is required but not provided, the absence may be considered leave without pay, subject to the approval of your department.

What if I am ill during my vacation?
If it has been demonstrated to the satisfaction of the Department Head that a staff member was admitted to hospital as an in-patient during their vacation, the staff member will be considered to be on illness leave for the period of stay in hospital subject to the Collective Agreement. Vacation time not taken as a result of a hospital stay will be taken at a mutually agreeable later date.

What about returning to work?
A staff member does have an obligation to return to work, even if they have not fully recovered from their injury or illness, where their restrictions and limitations can be accommodated through modified or alternate work.

A written return to work plan will be developed that is based on the information provided by a health care provider as well as the demands of the staff member's job. The return to work could be to either full or modified duties or hours. See the Organizational Development, Equity and Health website regarding temporary modifications to work.

If a staff member does not accept suitable modified work that is offered, their ability to access illness leave benefits will end.

When is an Independent Medical Examination required?
In the absence of objective medical information from the treating physician(s), in cases of prolonged absence caused by illness or where a medical condition is believed to be adversely affecting an employee's work, the Director, HRICS, (or designee), upon recommendation from the University Disability Provider, may require that the employee undergo an Independent Medical Exam (IME). The physician will submit a medical report to the University Disability Provider as to the condition of the employee and the amount of time considered necessary for his/her complete recovery, an opinion on the employee's ability to continue in his/her present position, with or without modification, treatment recommendations, and whether or not his/her condition can be improved through treatment.
The physician providing the Independent Medical Examination will submit a detailed medical report to Homewood Health on the staff member's condition, treatment recommendations, their ability to return to work, the time necessary for recovery, and an opinion on the staff member's ability to continue the present position, with or without modifications.

This information will be reviewed with the staff member and their treating physician, and decisions made as to the most appropriate next steps. Considerations would include return to work, entitlement to benefits, or accommodation to another suitable position.