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  1. Return to work planning

  2. Sample return to work plan

  3. Duty to accommodate

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Workplace Solutions for Mental Health
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Managing absences and returning to work

Returning to work is a crucial part of an individual’s recovery from any disabling health condition. The transition back to work can be both anxiety-provoking and exciting. Consider what differences occur as a result of the circumstances leading up to the absence, the communication with the employer/co-workers during the absence and the clarity of the return to work plan.

Before an absence

Does your organization have a clear, detailed and well-communicated workplace mental health policy?

  • Consider whether your workplace policies and practices include early identification of potential health issues as influences on performance (particularly when a change in performance or behaviour is noticed).
  • Consider whether employees are routinely advised of supports that may help to address factors that could impact performance (such as your Employee and Family Assistance Program, occupational health, wellness initiatives, etc.).
  • Consider whether employees are offered accommodation if there is a health issue that could be impacting performance.

Having ‘the talk’ with an employee who may be suffering from mental health issues – developed as part of Manulife’s What’s on your mind?® series with Dr. Ungar, Associate Professor at the University of Toronto and Chief of Psychiatry at North York General Hospital.

During an absence

Sometimes employees will require a disability leave in order to obtain appropriate treatment and adequately recover from an illness or injury.

  • If it is the culture of your workplace to send a card or flowers to an ill/injured employee, consider whether this practice is the norm, regardless of the circumstances leading up to the absence.
  • Is it policy in the workplace for early contact with ill/ injured employees during an absence? Consider whether the policy is routinely followed. Are there accommodations made to ensure the contact is made by someone with whom the employee feels comfortable?
  • Is it procedure to ensure that an offer of accommodation is made to all ill/injured employees?
  • Consider whether there is absence/disability management and return to work cooperation between labour and management. Mixed messages may interfere with the disability management process.