Leave Without Pay because of Illness or Injury

Date:

To: Heads of Human Resources, Directors/Chiefs of Labour Relations and Compensation

This information bulletin is to clarify for departments and agencies of the core public administration certain aspects of case management for leave without pay because of illness or injury. Specifically, this bulletin discusses the two-year time frame noted in the Directive on Leave and Special Working Arrangements (the Directive), Appendix B, "Leave Without Pay", section 2.2, "Illness or Injury in the Workplace".

Early intervention and case management are important in proactively managing disability cases. There are various policy instruments, services and other supports available to help managers engage the employee early when it becomes apparent that he or she will be off work for some time.

It is important that managers ensure that employees who are ill or injured get the support they need. Advice and assistance are available to managers and employees through human resources advisors, from bargaining agents and, in some organizations, from return-to-work coordinators or disability management coordinators. These resources should be engaged as early as possible to help manage an extended absence from work due to illness or injury and to collaborate on developing a return-to-work strategy.

Managers need to regularly review leave without pay situations to ensure that employees are getting the support they need, that the leave without pay remains warranted, and that other options such as accommodation are explored as necessary. Staying in touch with the employee is critical, and contact and review should be ongoing throughout the entire leave period.

As indicated in the Directive, the period of leave without pay for illness or injury is to be flexible enough to allow the designated authority for administration of leave to accommodate the needs of an employee who has special recovery problems. Periods of leave without pay should be granted and extended on a case-by-case basis according to individual circumstances. When there is evidence that the employee may be able to return to work in the foreseeable future, the concepts of flexibility and duty to accommodate must be considered.

The two years mentioned in the Directive is a marker or reference point to ensure that a review is done into order to determine that the period of leave without pay corresponds to and is appropriate to the individual circumstances. The two year mark is not a cap or a limit, but rather, a trigger to ensure that an in-depth review and assessment of the employee's file is performed. The period of leave without pay may continue beyond the two-year mark; however, management must be satisfied that there is a reason to extend the leave without pay, i.e. the employee continues to be unable to return to work but there are reasonable prospects of returning to work in the foreseeable future.

Leave without pay for illness and injury is meant to be a mechanism to bridge the employment gap. The Directive provides flexibility for departments and employees in planning and managing long-term illness or injury, while providing for a point of formal review and follow-up based upon the circumstances of the individual case.

All questions should be directed to your Departmental Corporate Labour Relations or Corporate Compensation Official who, if required will direct their questions to the Compensation and Labour Relations group at the following email address: Contact Interpretations by E-mail: Interpretations@tbs-sct.gc.ca.

Kevin Marchand
Senior Director
Core Public Administration
Compensation Management
Compensation and Labour Relations
Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer
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