Temporary Modifications to Work

Recovering from a serious illness or injury can be challenging. It is widely recognized that appropriate activity during recovery positively contributes to a person's overall health and speed of recovery. The Canadian Medical Association has noted:

The CMA recognizes the importance of a patient returning to all possible functional activities relevant to his or her life as soon as possible after an injury or illness. Prolonged absence from one's normal roles, including absence from the workplace, is detrimental to a person's mental, physical and social well-being. The treating physician should therefore encourage a patient's return to function and work as soon as possible after an illness or injury, provided that a return to work does not endanger the patient, his or her co-workers or society. A safe and timely return to work benefits the patient/employee and his or her family by enhancing recovery and reducing disability. A safe and timely return to work by the employee also preserves a skilled and stable workforce for employers and society and reduces demands on health and social services as well as on disability plans. (Canadian Medical Association, 2013)

The University of Alberta understands and supports the rehabilitative benefits of providing temporary modified hours and/or duties to assist a staff member in their transition to regular hours/duties.

  1. Temporary modifications to work are applicable when the prognosis for a full recovery is positive. Modifications may include:
    -adjustment to duties and/or hours of work, or
    -a temporary placement in rehabilitative employment with the goal of returning to regular duties and hours.
  2. If a staff member is fully off work on an approved illness/injury leave. In these instances, an On Line Notification (OLN) has been submitted to Homewood Health Inc. (HHI). HHI will evaluate and manage the medical recovery to the point of readiness for a return to work (RTW). If the medical information supports modified hours/duties during the RTW, HHI will refer the case to a University of Alberta Return To Work Consultant (RTWC). The RTWC will work collaboratively with all parties to evaluate, plan and implement a RTW based on the temporary medical restrictions/limitations and the work site's operational needs. A written plan will be developed and shared with the employee and supervisor/manager. The RTWC will evaluate progress and update the RTW plan as appropriate. The RTWC will work with HHI to gather supplemental medical information as necessary.
  3. If a staff member has a WCB claim and requires modified hours and/or duties. WCB will notify the University of Alberta's Health Recovery and Return to Work Services unit on the need for temporary modified hours and/or duties. A RTWC will be assigned and will work with WCB, the employee and the work site to plan and implement a gradual RTW plan based on the temporary restrictions/limitations provided by WCB. A written plan will be developed and shared with the employee, work site and WCB. WCB legislation requires the University to provide modified hours/duties* and the employee to actively cooperate/participate in the RTW. WCB continues to manage the medical during the RTW period. The RTWC will update the plan based on progress and any new recommendations provided by WCB.
  4. If a staff member has an illness or injury and is remaining at work but requires a temporary modification. The staff member and supervisor can meet to discuss and implement a solution based on the staff member's identified needs and the unit's operational requirements. For example, the staff member sprains an ankle skiing and needs to limit walking and standing for a few weeks while the sprain settles. The two parties can agree on what duties will be temporarily modified. They will periodically review the progress over the next few weeks, and normal duties will resume as the condition resolves. If the sprain is not resolving as expected and the recovery becomes uncertain, the department can consult with their HR Partner, a RTWC, or complete an OLN to initiate a formal referral to Homewood Health. Homewood Health will assist the staff member with their medical recovery and they will involve a RTWC to assist with return to work planning. If you have any questions on this, please send an email to recovery@ualberta.ca.

    Note: If the prognosis, over time, becomes poor and/or timelines for recovery are extended, the temporary modifications process may transition to a longer term formal Accommodation Due to Physical or Mental Disability. Please see the Medical Accommodation Due to Physical or Mental Disability webpage for permanent medical restrictions/limitations.

    *to the point of undue hardship (see Duty to Accommodate for additional information).