Return to Work and LTD

Whether you’ve been on LTD for a couple of months or a couple of years, it’s likely only a matter of time before your insurer tells you it’s time to start planning for your return to work.

While receiving LTD benefits, participating in a return to work program as requested by the insurer is one of your key responsibilities. The insurer doesn’t have to wait until you are completely recovered to say it’s time for you to go back to work, only until you’re healthy enough to begin to safely resume some work.

It’s your responsibility to engage in return to work discussions, and they should be in consultation with your doctor. You shouldn’t be attempting a return to work if you aren’t ready; this could set your recovery back or even make your disability worse.

Return to work plans could involve:

  • Beginning with reduced hours and gradually increasing them
  • Doing modified duties for your current job
  • Moving to a different position or type of work with your current employer
  • Undergoing retraining for a different occupation

It’s important to note that every policy is different, so the return to work expectations will vary. Likewise, every workplace is different. You’ll want to familiarize yourself with your workplace’s policies related to disabilities and accommodations that are available to you. If you belong to a union, they will likely provide support and information, too.

Under the Ontario Human Rights Code, your employer has a duty to accommodate your needs as an employee. That duty has three key components, which apply to both the process of seeking accommodations and the accommodations themselves:

  • Dignity, which protects your privacy, confidentiality, comfort and autonomy
  • Individualization, which recognizes that each individual is unique and accommodations are not one-size fits all
  • Inclusion, which means that everyone has a right to access their environment in a way that respects their dignity and without barriers

While you are in the process of returning to work, it’s very important to keep your doctor updated about how it’s going. If you’re facing setbacks or having more pain or emotional difficulty, you should be candid with your doctor.

You have a responsibility to try in good faith to follow the return to work plan. Participating shows the insurer that you are holding up your end of the agreement. That said, neither your insurer nor your employer should be pressuring you to get back to work before you’re ready.

If you have concerns about returning to work while receiving LTD benefits, it’s a good idea to speak to your doctor. You may also find it helpful to consult with an experienced LTD lawyer.