Academic Staff Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ applies to Medical Leave; when the staff member has been on medical leave and absent for more than 20 working days or the staff member expects that the medical leave will result in a medical absence of more than 20 days.

This Frequently Asked Questions Guide is designed to help you understand the Medical Leave process, from the notification stage through to your recovery and return to work.

What's Changed?
Change for the ill/injured staff member is minimal; you will simply notify your absence to your manager and HHI instead of Organizational Development, Equity and Health (ODEH). Just as is the case now, you will be assigned a dedicated consultant (a HHI Health Support Consultant [HSC]) to assist you with health recovery. Once ready to return to work, you will work with the ODEH Return to Work Consultant (RTWC) and your supervisor just as you do now.

Who is Homewood Health and what role do they play in my Medical Leave?

Homewood Health Inc. (HHI) is an independent disability management provider that the University of Alberta has partnered with to provide an enhanced level of service for faculty and staff who are dealing with health related issues that may require time off work, or proactively deal with these issues while remaining at work. The goal of the partnership between ODEH and HHI is to support you in identifying the best resources and access to rehabilitative or other services and to assist you in a safe, healthy, productive and sustainable return to work.

What are my responsibilities while on a Medical Leave Absence?
Faculty and Academic Staff who have been on medical leave and absent from duties for twenty days or if she/he expects that the medical leave will result in an absence of more than twenty days, are required to provide their Department Chair (or designate) of your absence immediately and your expected duration of your medical leave. Please review the relevant clauses in your collective agreement.

For more information please review Academic Staff Medical Leave Roles and Responsibilities on the HRS website.

Am I required to advise HHI of my Medical Leave absence?
There are many benefits to accessing the support of a HHI Health Support Consultant (HSC). Your Health Support HHI Health Support Consultant (HSC) can coordinate and often expedite access to rehabilitative, diagnostic and assessment services sooner than a physician referral. When working with an HSC, many of these costs may be covered by the University.

Further, by developing a return to work plan with the ODEH Return to Work Consultant based on medical recommendations, your medical leave can be extended out beyond 26 weeks by the amount of work that is being undertaken during a medical leave.

Once you provide notification from your doctor for Medical Leave benefits, an HSC will contact you to support you in your recovery. The HSC will work with you, your manager, the ODEH Return to Work Consultant (RTWC) and your health care provider(s) to facilitate your healthy and safe return to work with the University of Alberta.

What information should I provide to the HSC?
Download and have your treating physician complete the Medical Certificate form and provide it to HHI.Your physician's office may fax the Medical Certificate form directly to HHI at 780-429-1747. The University of Alberta will cover the costs of the Medical Certificate reporting fee. Please have your doctor's office fax their invoice directly to HHI at 780-429-1747. We recommend faxing medical documents to HHI, however if you choose to scan and email information, Please note that the University's Information and Privacy Office (IPO) does not recommend that medical information be sent by email. For more information about the risks of sending medical and other personal information by email and the alternative ways of sending information suggested by the IPO, please see: Email Best Practices. Please consider these risks and alternatives when you share medical and other personal information in the course of accessing services and resources to assist with your illness, injury or disability.

If I'm charged a fee by my doctor for completion of forms, will the University of Alberta pay for this?
Yes. The University of Alberta will cover the costs associated with the completion of the Medical Certificate form. Please have your doctor's office fax their invoice directly to HHI at 780-429-1747.

What are my Medical Leave benefits?
Please see the provisions in your Collective Agreement for information on your Medical Leave benefits.

What are my responsibilities while I receive Medical Leave benefits?
Your Collective agreement outlines your responsibilities while on Medical Leave.

When accessing the health support services provided by HHI, it is important to maintain regular communication with your HSC and provide medical updates. With your consent, your HSC can liaise withyou and your treatment team to better understand your medical situation and the medical recommendations, and facilitate access to additional health recovery supports if required.

It is best practice to maintain regular communication with your Manager during the duration of your leave. Research indicates that the relationship and communication between a staff member and their Managers are key contributors to a timely and successful return to work.

As soon as it is safe and healthy for you to return to work (based on medical documentation), your HSC will connect you with your ODEH Return to Work Consultant who will assist you and your manager in developing an appropriate return to work plan. Modified work plans are rehabilitative in nature and are valuable as a person moves through their recovery and readiness for regular hours/duties. Further, by developing an early return to work plan, the duration of medical leave can be extended beyond 26 weeks based on the amount of time at work completed during the medical leave.

Will my Manager stay in contact with me while I am off?
Yes. Both your supervisor and HSC are also responsible for regular communication with you. It is best practice for the Manager to stay in communication with a staff member who is on Medical Leave. To ensure that you continue to feel connected to your faculty/department while you are ill/injured, your manager will maintain regular communication with you and provide ongoing support during the duration of your leave.

Who has/keeps my medical information?
HHI will hold all medical information on their secure sites and servers. These are completely separate from the University of Alberta. HHI meets all provincial and federal privacy legislations for the protection of personal health information.

Does Homewood share medical information with the University of Alberta?
No. Any medical information provided to HHI concerning your health is strictly confidential and will not be shared with anyone at the University of Alberta, including your manager or Human Resources department. Information will be shared on a need to know basis as it pertains to your fitness for work and work related ,restrictions, and limitations. U of A's Privacy Office has reviewed the process to ensure compliance with requirements under legislation and University Policy.

What happens if I'm unable to return to work before the maximum Medical Leave benefit period?
ODEH will initiate the Long Term Disability (LTD) application process 6 weeks prior to the end of your Medical Leave benefit period and send you the required paperwork. Your HSC will be available to explain the LTD application process. Information on your LTD plan can be found on the Academic Disability Leave Plan.

Are these services available only if I'm off work?
No. If you are at work but have a health issue or injury that is impacting your ability to complete your work responsibilities effectively, the HSC can provide support and assistance to help you proactively deal with these issues while remaining at work. Please visit our Stay at Work information page for more information.

How do I access services?
Please visit the HRS website for more information or to access forms or speak with your Manager/Supervisor who can also assist you.

Homewood Health provides Employee & Family Assistance Programs (EFAP) for the University of Alberta. Is there a link between the EFAP and the Case Management Support teams?
No. The Health Support Team is a completely separate division of HHI, with different locations, computer systems, computer servers and staff. There would only be interaction between an EFAP counsellor and the Case Coordinator with expressed written consent from you.

Who do I contact if I have a concern?
We encourage you to fully discuss any concerns about your case directly with your HSC or your ODEH Return to Work Consultant.

For advice and assistance with the process, you may contact your Association, your HR Partner or department HR Manager.

If your concerns are not addressed by these means or if you have a concern about the service or program, please contact ODEH at