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Employer & Employer Responsibilities in RTW After Injury

May 30, 2023 from WCB Alberta


Following an appropriate process and determining what is needed for an employee to successfully return to work after injury, is not always a clear cut process. Each case has it own complexities and requires a number of different considerations during the negotiation and management of the claim.


When it comes to ensuring a successful return to work plan for an injured worker, the WCB has determined several responsibilities for both employers and the employees in Alberta which are crucial in the return process.


Employee Responsibilities in Return-to-Work

Firstly, the employee must communicate the their appropriate WCB-Alberta decision maker whenever necessary. If the decision maker requests any information regarding the claim, the employee’s recovery, or their interactions with the employer, the employee must oblige their request.


When applicable, the employee must identify and consider all reasonable offers of accommodation, modified work, or of alternate employment. When provided with a return to work plan, the employee must cooperate with the plan and overall, act in good faith.


Employer Responsibilities in Return-to-Work

As is the employee’s responsibility, the employer must also communicated with the WCB-Alberta decision maker following the injury, whenever required. If the employee is unable to perform the duties that are essential to their previous work before injury, but they are fit to perform alternate work, the employer must provide suitable modified employment, temporary or permanent.


Once the worker is capable medically and physically to perform their essential job duties, the employer is responsible to reinstate them to their pre-accident employment. Just as the employee is responsible in cooperating with the return to work plan and to act in good faith, the employer also must also give the same cooperative efforts.


There are two potential ways an employer may fail to meet their obligations to reinstate the employee post-injury:


  1. If the worker’s employment is terminated due to the injury or the related claim, or
  2. If the employer does not provide the worker with suitable accommodation in either temporary or permanent work, and undue hardship is not applicable.


Undue Hardship

Employers should be aware of undue hardship when attempting to return an employee to work. The employer must make a considerable effort to find a temporary or permanent suitable modified employment for the employee. If the accommodations required to return the employee to work create onerous conditions for the employer, then they may be able to claim undue hardship. This may occur if the employer experiences serious business disruptions or intolerable financial costs as a result of the accommodation. Although the employer should also keep in mind that some hardships may be absolutely necessary to accommodate the employee.





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